Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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National and World

May 22, 2013

Oklahoma tornado damage could top $2 billion

(Continued)

Medical examiner's office spokeswoman Amy Elliott said they are still trying to contact relatives of eight of the victims.

Authorities and residents of Moore have started to assess the damage and plot a future course for Moore, a town of about 56,000 that was also hit by a massive tornado in 1999.

Mayor Glen Lewis said Wednesday he would propose an ordinance in the next couple of days to modify building codes to require that every new home in the town would have a reinforced tornado shelter.

Lewis said he was confident he would get the four votes he needs on the six-member council to pass the ordinance. The measure could be in force within months.

Underground safe rooms are typically built below garages and can cost around $4,000.

Besides rebuilding or repairing, homeowners are likely to suffer other expenses, including a rise in home insurance premiums, Ramsey said.

"Three years of hail bombardments of apocalyptic proportions and then this? It has to result in some give someplace," he said.

Residents clearing massive piles of debris were also trying to get hold of essentials like mobile phones and prescription drugs lost in the destruction. Cellular service providers set up mobile retail outlets and charging stations. At least one was offering free phone calls and loaner phones.

Insurance companies have also set up emergency operation centers to take calls from people trying to get prescriptions filled and handle other health care needs.

The emotional trauma of the destruction compounded the tornado's cost.

With her son holding her elbow, 83-year-old Colleen Arvin walked up her driveway Tuesday to see what was left of her home of 40 years.

Part of the roof was sitting in the front yard, and the siding from the front of her home for the past 40 years was gone. As her son and grandsons picked through what was left of her belongings, Arvin found some dark humor in the situation.

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