TODAY   |  May 21, 2013

Moore, Okla. mayor: Storm shelters saved lives

Glenn Lewis, the mayor of Moore, Okla., which was devastated by a tornado Monday afternoon, talks about search and recovery efforts in the wake of the storm, saying authorities have been going door to door looking for survivors.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> bring in mayor glenn lewis of moore, oklahoma. sir, good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> thank you for being with us and our condolences for all that is lost here.

>> we appreciate that.

>> the death toll stands at 51. do you expect that number rise today ?

>> hopefully not. right now we're is doing search and rescue and optimistic we might find a couple people under the debris, we don't know yet. we're going to be optimistic today.

>> what kind of resources are being brought to bear to find people? we heard reports yesterday that heat sensors searching through the rubble.

>> our fire department has heat sensors and we've gone door to door , we'll start the process, this will be our third pass this morning and we've gone door to door looking for survivors and the thermal imagers are one of the best things we've purchased in a long time, we're using them all today.

>> one of the things breaking everybody's heart is the fact that two schools were in the direct path of this storm. with regard to plaza towers, there have been reports that some of the older kids, the fourth graders and older were taken elsewhere, they were evacuated essentially but the little ones were told to shelter in place. do you know anything how that came to pass, whether that's even true?

>> no, i don't. the school system would be best to answer that question. the schools in the city are straightens. the schools cover oklahoma city as well as moore. it's a tragedy that this has happened. we're still looking into it. the fire department is doing an investigation on how this happened. we don't know.

>> this is a town that unfortunately has seen so much devastation. you had an ef5 tornado may 3rd , 1999 . is there an adequate underground shelter system? do a lot of the homes around here have that?

>> after the '99 tornado fema came in and offered rebates to do storm shelters so a lot of the houses do have, otherwise we'd be talking probably thousand or more fatality but right now we're looking at 50 and that's still way too many.

>> i know there are power outages here.

>> yes.

>> you and i were looking at some of the damage that natalie was able to see from the helicopter in the air. how does this compare to what you've seen before and what is your message to your community this morning?

>> right now we say hold on, we're in the process of coming to help you, if you need anything, the red cross is here, almost every church is open, they were open last night. just hang in there.

>> there are so many people that see these images and they want to help.

>> yes.

>> they want to do something. what should they do?

>> right now we ask they stay out of our way, stay home and keep the roads open so the ambulance and fire trucks can do their jobs.

>> mayor glenn lewis i appreciate your time on a busy morning. thank you and good luck with your work.

>> thank you, appreciate it.

>> we tush to i acouple of people, robert foster , excuse me sorry, we have dr. nancy snyderman , i got ahead of myself. you've been talking to some of the people