Children Orphaned by Tornadoes in Alabama

28/5/2011 – At least eight children have been orphaned in the tornadoes that hit Alabama last month, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, the updated death toll from the EF-5 that struck Joplin, Missouri, is now confirmed at 132.

The death toll from the deadly EF-5 tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri, USA, now stands at 132, said city officials yesterday. The tornado hit the town last Sunday, featuring deadly winds of up to 320 kilometers per hour.

The twister is reported to be the deadliest to hit the United States since 1950, and the start of modern recordkeeping. This year alone, 500 people have died – a number also unseen for 50 years. In the last deadly outbreak this year, 58 tornadoes hit the state of Alabama on April 27th, leaving 238 people dead said the National Weather Service.

In addition to the wreckage in Alabama and Missouri comes even more devastating news: several children have become orphans due to the lethal storms. Reuters reported that at least eight children lost both parents in the Alabama tornadoes. An official state count is yet to be released.

“Being orphaned is what we call a forever loss,” Dr. Jane Aronson of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation told Reuters yesterday.

According to the Missouri Department of Public Safety, there are still 156 people who are unaccounted for. The original list of missing persons stood was 232. Since the list was updated to 156, at least 90 people on the original list were found alive.

Many of the people counted as missing may in fact be dead, given that the process of identifying bodies and notifying next-of-kin has proved lengthy. DNA and fingerprinting are essential for identifying those killed in the tornado and next-of-kin must be notified before a person is officially counted as dead.

Emergency rescue teams comprising 600 volunteers and 50 dog teams are steadfastly searching for casualties and survivors caught under the wreckage of the tornado.

Storm warning systems have greatly improved since the 1990s and the development of better weather radar systems. Joplin residents had about 20 minutes warning before the twister touched down. Still, science has not yet found a way to best this one of Mother Nature’s most terrifying forces.

Everything from La Nina and climate change to urbanization and public complacency have been blamed by scientists as key reasons for this season’s deadly twister trend. Twisters occurring at night and on the weekends tend to be particularly fatal, given that twisters are difficult to see at night and people are less likely to hear the warnings at these times.