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Promoting Tornado Safe Rooms in Oklahoma



From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

On May 20th, a tornado brought death and destruction to the American community of Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado had wind speeds of up to 400 kilometers an hour. Twenty-four people died when the storm cut through the city. People had only 15 minutes to react to warnings. Some fled Moore or took refuge in the most secure area of their home. The lucky ones took cover in underground shelters or steel-and-concrete structures called safe rooms.

Leslie Chapman Henderson is head of a nonprofit group called the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. She is a big supporter of tornado safe rooms. She says they can help reduce the number of tornado deaths. A safe room is built to resist high winds and flying wreckage. Skye Strouhal survived the tornado in Moore. He watched as it moved in her direction. He and a friend ran to a neighbor's underground shelter only minutes before the storm struck.

Better methods for predicting storms give people like Skye Strouhal and her friend more time. But they need someplace safe to go. Structures can be built to resist strong winds. But not all structures may be able to resist a tornado as strong as the one that hit Moore. It was rated F-5, the highest possible rating. Moore lies in an area of the United States called Tornado Alley. Powerful storm systems are common. The tornado in May was the fourth to strike the city in 14 years. Moore's mayor is pushing for laws requiring safe rooms in all new buildings. Similar proposals followed other tornado strikes, but no laws were passed.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman.