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Good Question: Reply All: The Oklahoma Tornado

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s important to remember that sometimes there’s nothing anyone could do. Tornadoes are powerful, mysterious, and random. But many of you had good questions related to the tragedy in Oklahoma.

• Why aren’t there basements in Oklahoma? – Betty Cozatt

It’s because of the soil. Some of it is really clay-like, which gets wet and causes basement flooding. The rest of it has bedrock, which can be very expensive to chip away at, if not impossible. If you want a basement, you might need to use explosives to clear the bedrock.

Nationally, only 31 percent of newly constructed homes have basements, according to the National Association of Home Builders. In Minnesota, it’s closer to 81 percent.

• Why don’t schools have storm shelters? – Brandy DuToit

It’s an expense issue. After a tornado in Joplin, Miss., they rebuilt schools with shelters which ended up costing more than $26 million.

In Wadena, where a tornado ripped through in 2010, the new high school has a 6,500-square-foot safe room designed to handle up to 250 miles per hour. It holds 1,100 people.

All schools in Minnesota do tornado drills. The standard procedure is to cover your head in the hallway, but when a tornado flies through at 200 miles per hour, there’s really nowhere that’s 100-percent safe above ground – unless you’re in a specially-designed structure.

• Does Minnesota get tornadoes with that kind of destructive power? – Meg Brownson

According to the National Weather Service, the last EF5 tornado in Minnesota was 1992 in Chandler. The weather service estimated winds reached 260 miles per hour. One person was killed, 35 were hurt and there was $50 million in damage.

Over the past 30 years, we average 37 tornadoes a year, but EF4 and EF5 tornadoes are extremely rare.

• What’s the best way to help Oklahoma tornado victims? – Greg Herman and Libby Otto

Right now the Salvation Army and American Red Cross are already on the scene and helping. No doubt other aid agencies will quickly respond.

Salvation Army: https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok, or Text “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation.

American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

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