MOORE — For Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis, the tornado that hit the town in seven years ago feels like it happened yesterday.
Wednesday marks the seven-year anniversary of the EF-5 tornado that touched down in Moore and took the lives of 24 residents, including seven school children, injured 300 others and caused more than $2 billion in property damage on May 20, 2013. The tornado added another harmful chapter to a city that has experienced its fair share of damage from natural disasters.
Lewis, who has been the Moore mayor for nearly 30 years, has experienced many of those natural disasters, including the tornadoes in 1999 and 2003. However, the 2013 tornado stands out from all the others.
"It was like, 'here we go again'," Lewis said. "In several ways the impact of the (2013) tornado wasn't as bad as the one in 1999, but the thing that made this one different is we lost those kids. It's hard not to think about where those kids would be now. A lot of them would be in high school and getting ready to graduate and go off to college. It's something you don't forget."
Despite the overwhelming damage of that tornado, Lewis said there are a lot of good things to focus on. In the immediate aftermath, law enforcement and first responders from surrounding areas arrived at the scene to help cleanup the wreckage and comfort affected residents.
Jeremy Lewis, Moore Police Sgt., said the help they received from surrounding areas was crucial in containing the damage.
"Immediately there was help from agencies far away. I don't know who they got here so quick," Lewis said. "They got here that day and stayed around for weeks. There was no way we could handle it by ourselves. It was so nice, and we really didn't have to ask for help."
Moore city and school officials immediately got to work in updating structures to prevent extensive damage in potential future natural disasters. In 2015, a $209 million bond proposal passed that built storm shelters for all Moore schools. The city overhauled it's building codes and now has some of the tightest building codes in the country, and now most homes and other structures inside city limits have storm shelters, Glenn Lewis said.
The city has built more than 11,000 storm shelters since 1999, Glenn Lewis said, and that process increased after the 2013 tornado. City Hall will have a storm shelter on the first floor in the coming weeks.
The city council also has worked to set aside money in its budget to be prepared for future disasters. These efforts have all been done to help the city if future disasters arise, Lewis said.
"Everything much safer for kids and everybody here now," Glenn Lewis said. "We have had a lot of people step up. There's a lot of community development and community pride here in Moore."
Although the city has dealt with several disasters in its history, Jeremy Lewis said the efforts to repair the city in 2013 is an example of the resiliency of the community.
The city gets stronger with each incident that it has (to deal with)," Lewis said. "(The 2013 tornado) was no different. It's unfortunate that we have experience dealing with these things, but we learn with each one. We've taken things we've learned from other incidents and work to be more prepared for the next one."
Fortunately, the city has not had a natural disaster comparable to the 2013 tornado since it happened. Glenn Lewis is hopeful that trend will continue.
"We haven't had anything like that in seven years, and we're hoping we don't have to deal with one for another 70 years," Lewis said.
Jesse Crittenden366-3540Follow me @firstname.lastname@example.org