The Final Report, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Technical Investigation of the May 22, 2011, Tornado in Joplin, Missouri, was released today.
I found myself thinking of the new hospital that Centegra is building in Huntley as I was reading thedraft final report on the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado.
St. John’s Regional Medical Center was left standing, but had to be demolished because of the extent of the damage.
The Huntley Hospital location may or may not have been in the path of Crystal Lake’s Palm Sunday tornado in 1965, but it will stick out of the landscape similar to Joplin’s.
The majority of the impact–resistant windows on the fifth floor (Behavioral Health of the West Tower of St. John’s Regional Medical Center remained intact, whereas most regular dual–pane insulated windows at SJRMC were broken when exposed to the same tornado hazards.
Across the country, there is no standard method for sounding outdoor public siren systems, which has led to variations in siren usage, activation procedures, and sounding patterns among U.S. communities. Also, there are no nationally accepted standard protocols for the issuance of an all–clear alert following a warning.
NIST strongly urges State and local authorities having jurisdiction to adopt and enforce model building codes and standards. Enforcement is critical to ensuring expected levels of safety. Following good building practices also is critical to achieving better performance of structures during extreme events like tornadoes.
The standards shall require that critical buildings and infrastructure such as hospitals and emergency operations centers be designed to remain operational in the event of a tornado…
NIST recommends that: (a) a tornado shelter standard specific for existing buildings be developed and referenced in model building codes; and (b) tornado shelters be installed in new and existing multi–family residential buildings, mercantile buildings, schools and buildings with assembly occupancies located in tornado hazard areas…
NIST recommends that aggregate used as surfacing for roof coverings and aggregate, gravel, or stone used as ballast be prohibited on buildings of any height located in a tornado–prone region.
The narrative which followed was riveting, since I drove extensively through the affected area after being emotionally traumatized by the destruction the first day we visited my sister six weeks after Mary 22nd.
There was my sister’s St. Paul’s Methodist Church on the west side of Joplin at the northern edge of the tornado’s path. The front was gone, but the addition (a pre–engineered structural frame building) was left standing.
East of the hospital, a “three-story wood frame building, which was built in 2003, was likely due to the inclusion of hurricane tie–downs and concrete anchors in its construction.These components created a robust and continuous vertical load path for this building.”
Moving east, “the Greenbriar Nursing Home, and the one–story, wood–framed structure was completely demolished, causing 19 fatalities out of a total of 95 occupants.”
Next in the tornado’s path was my brother-in-law’s “concrete masonry buildings of St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School, Church, and Rectory.”
The priest survived by sitting in his bathtub.
The storm headed toward Joplin High School
Below you can see the view from the western edge of the school grounds, which is on a hill
“Surveillance video from Joplin High School shows that as the tornado approached the vicinity of the school, trees and light poles began to collapse near the baseball field, and the air was littered with debris.”
The tornado headed for Joplin’s main shopping street, Range Line Road, which runs north of the Interstate.
Dillon’s “was demolished, everyone inside the store survived with only minor cuts, bruises, or scratches.”
“Businesses in the area included AT&T, Pizza Hut, Macadoodles, Walmart, and Home Depot.”
You can read a first-hand account from an employee of the AT&T story here. (The article is footnoted among other “media reports.”)
“In its wake, the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado left 161 fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries. This EF–5 rated tornado was on the ground for approximately 6 miles and 15 min in Joplin, Missouri, and created a damage path as much as a mile wide. The tornado was the deadliest single tornado in the United States since the official NWS records began in 1950.”
“The damage to the built environment made this the costliest tornado on record, with losses approaching$3 billion. The Joplin tornado damaged 553 business structures and nearly 7,500 residential structures; over 3,000 of those residences were heavily damaged or completely destroyed.”
Not mentioned in the report are the “Butterfly People,” which you can read about here.