Tornado Summit in OKC teaches about tornado safety and more

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Reported by: Andrew Carter
Updated: 2/11 8:18 am Published: 2/10 6:44 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - As we've seen, tornadoes can tear homes to shreds and send cars flying into the air.

Experts’ say being prepared is the key to tornado safety. Right now tornado experts are in Oklahoma for a big weather summit.

FOX23 first told you about how insurance claims are becoming a hot topic at the National Tornado Summit.

A FOX23 crew went to the Tornado Summit and learned how you can protect your home and loved ones during a severe weather event.

Families in Oklahoma know they live in Tornado Alley and also know firsthand the destruction a tornado can do.

Many residents of Moore, Okla., are still trying to rebuild after the devastating tornado outbreak in May 2013.

Weather industry professionals from all over the country went to Oklahoma City for the Tornado Summit.

"It’s very important for our state because we do experience a lot of natural catastrophes, bad weather, certainly tornadoes," said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.

The main focus is simple.

"Our purpose, of course, is to save lives and save property," said John Doak, Oklahoma insurance commissioner.

But FOX23 wanted to know what to do when your home or car can't be saved.

"If you've lost everything, what are you going to do?" said Doak.

It's that question for insurance companies that dominated the day.

"The first thing is to take care of the person, take care of the home, and sometimes these insurance claims can take a long time," Doak explained.

This was a major complaint at the conference, that insurance companies need to be more accommodating to families, but you can also understand a certain hesitation.

"Whenever you have a major disaster you have people coming from all over everywhere, and if they want large sums of cash (it's difficult), because they're probably going to take your money and not going to be there," said Doak.

Ultimately, Doak understands the power of insurance companies and wants to see a change.

"It’s time for them to pay when we have a catastrophe, and we want to make sure that goes smoothly for consumers," said Doak.

The recent tornado outbreaks in Joplin and Moore are raising questions about preparation and safety.

The Tornado Summit is a platform for many professionals but also politicians.

"That’s why I’m supporting a constitutional amendment that will allow a one-time bonding increase for local school districts and local citizens to be able to put in safe rooms or storm shelters," Fallin explained.

The key part of the amendment is keeping it local.

Fallin told FOX23, "You know, we think it's important to allow local control. Allow those local citizens (to) decide what's best for their communities."

Doak said, "You know, I’m an advocate for letting local school districts and local places make up their own minds,; (decide) do they want to invest in those.?"

The city of Moore saw an example of reaping benefits from an investment.

"We know the Imax theater in Moore withstood 300-mph winds with re-stressed concrete, so I mean, there are tools out there that can be used," said Doak.

But what about safety in your own home? FOX23 asked.

Straight-line Shelters, from Edmond, Okla., gave its input on the debate between underground and above -ground shelters.

Matt Hibbard owns Straight-line Shelters, and he told FOX23, "I would recommend, you know, being underground. And you know, most weathermen said get underground; I’m getting underground."

"Any shelter is better than being in a ca, or being in your house if an EF5 is approaching your residence," Hibbard said.

The Tornado Summit is two days long and will wrap up Tuesday.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mayor Maynot - 2/12/2014 10:40 AM
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Tornado?? The DI said head for the closest ditch
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