Predictable Destruction

Good Job This safe room is all that remains of a Moore, Okla., house destroyed May 20 by an EF5 tornado. The photo shows the wall plates on the floor that used to be bedrooms and closets, but the reinforced safe room built into a bathroom survived the devastation.

John and Cheryl Molsbee stand in the storm shelter that saved their lives in May.

The Molsbees lost another house to a tornado in 1999 and say they will not rebuild. Round structures (above) withstand high winds better than ones with corners.

Curtis McCarty often includes a safe room in homes he builds.

But even the wind-resistant construction he advocates won’t survive a direct hit from an EF5 tornado, such as the one that obliterated a subdivision that builder Marvin Haworth helped develop

This row of homes shows how the extent of damage falls off sharply along the periphery edges of the path of an EF5 tornado. This neighbood in Moore, Okla., shows successively less damage. It is difficult for a house to survive a direct hit from a strong tornado, but it can survive a near miss.

Built with precast concrete panels, the Warren Theater in Moore, Okla., acted as a storm shelter and reopened eight days after an EF5 tornado destroyed most of the surrounding area.

Volunteers take a much-needed break while clearing debris.

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