Oklahoma Strong: State Pushes Forward as Storm Travels East

Oklahoma Governor considering safe rooms in buildings across the state.

ByAlexis Shaw and Leezel Tanglao
June 02, 2013, 8:30 AM

June 2, 2013— -- While the East Coast prepares for hail, damaging winds, and flooding from the storm that ripped through Oklahoma on Friday, the state works to rebuild and recover following the twisters that left a path of destruction in their wake.

Best practices are being considered after Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin raised the importance of improving residents' education and awareness regarding safe rooms and as well as the value in taking shelter in a storm at a press conference today at Canadian Valley Technology Center in El Reno, Okla.

"I think we probably need to do a better job educating citizens in our state," Fallin said. "It's also important not to get out. If you're not out on the road, don't try to outrun these things. You never know where a storm may twist and turn."

"I am certainly going to be encouraging schools, colleges, and career technology centers to look at secured, safe rooms in their buildings," she said. "They do work. We just need to encourage people to do more of that in our state."

PHOTOS: Twisters Hit OKC Area Again

The death toll from Friday's storms rose to 13, including four children. Among the fatalities from the deadly twisters was well-known meteorologist and storm chaser Tim Samaras, according to family members.

Samaras, 55, who founded TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes EXperiment) and appeared on the show "Storm Chasers," dedicated three decades of his life to studying tornadoes.

"Out of all storm chasers he doesn't take chances, he's the one that puts the probes in the path of the tornado to learn more about them. He is not, you know, a young gun running around making bad decisions person so I am so sad and shocked, it is such a loss for the community," ABC News weather anchor Ginger Zee said of Samaras.

Samaras' son Paul and along with storm chase partner Carl Young were also killed in Friday's storms near El Reno, Okla.

Storm Chasers Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young Killed in Oklahoma Tornadoes

Samaras' brother, Jim Samaras posted a statement on Tim Samaras' Facebook early Sunday morning:

"It truly is sad that we lost my great brother Tim and his great son, Paul. Our hearts also go out to the Carl Young family as well as they are feeling the same feelings we are today," the statement said. "They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they LOVED. Chasing Tornado's. I look at it that he is in the 'big tornado in the sky...'"

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., issued a statement expressing condolences over Tim Samaras' death.

"Samaras was a respected tornado researcher and friend ... who brought to the field a unique portfolio of expertise in engineering, science, writing and videography," the center's statement said.

The Storm Prediction Center said it believed the deaths were the first time scientific researchers were killed while chasing tornadoes, The Associated Press reported.

Left in the Dark

To aid recovery efforts, Oklahoma Gas and Electric has worked hard to get customers in the Oklahoma City back up and running. Friday night's tornadoes left tens of thousands without power. With approximately 48,000 in the dark in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area alone, questions loom as to how soon residents will have their lights back on.

"The flooding though that we've had has really hindered our access to get in and determine what kind of damage we have," Kathleen O'Shea of OG&E told ABC News Radio.

RELATED: Twisters' Deadly Lesson: You Can't Run, So Hide

But Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said the storms could have been a lot worse for the Sooner State's capital.

"It could have been really, really bad," he told ABC News. "The fact that it did not come down out of the sky and in retrospect, did not have the high winds as the May 20 storm, we're probably pretty fortunate."

Yet Cornett said he plans to review why the majority of the lives lost in the storm were people on the road trying to outrun the twisters.

"We don't need people in their cars during a high risk storm like that," he said. "[People] have tornado precautions in their mind, they just need to use them. They don't need to start getting in their cars and taking off."

"The worst place you can be in a tornado is in your car. You get in your car, almost anything can happen," said Cornett.

Oklahoma Strong

Despite the devastation sustained in Oklahoma these past two weeks, some residents are not going anywhere.

Although Angela Cobel's 120-year-old house witnessed Oklahoma's tough history, it did not survive the latest round of twisters. Yet, she is not leaving the state.

"It's just this is where your heart is and I guess that's why we stay," Cobel said.

RELATED: Tornado Myths Debunked: 'Anything Can Happen' in Your Car

As Oklahoma continues to rebuild from the destruction in the Oklahoma City area and from the storms in Moore, officials acknowledge relief efforts will be trying both physically and emotionally for residents.

"We're still holding funerals for families that lost loved ones, families that lost kids in grade schools [in Moore]," Cornett said. "The emotional impact of May 20 remains with us. The physical aspect will take us time."

ABC News' Ginger Zee, ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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