Two days after a massive tornado devastated the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, OK, the official casualty count stands at 24 dead, a number which was revised down from 51, and about 240 injured. County Commissioner Brian Maughan tells Reuters that after searches conducted Tuesday, it seems no one else is missing. On Wednesday morning’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough took a well-deserved shot at what he described as the cause of “a lot of heartache” in Oklahoma, the state’s Medical Examiner’s Office, which released an official death toll of 51 Monday night. They revised that figure down to 24 Monday morning, citing the “early chaos of the storm” as the reason for the error. Scarborough, however, identified the real problem.
As that revised death toll has held steady thus far, the massive destruction caused by the tornado led Scarborough to echo the USA Today cover that asks “How Could So Many Have Survived?”
“How did so few people die?” Scarborough asked, adding “of course, for those 24 deaths, an unspeakable tragedy, so many lives shattered, but…”
Co-host Mika Brzezinski attributed the relatively low death toll to the 16 minutes that elapsed between the tornado warning and the storm’s arrival.
“They had warning, and that is huge,” agreed guest Cokie Roberts, adding “and that’s something we have spent some federal money on, is getting tornado and severe weather sort of organizations in place, to give people warning.”
“But, Cokie, people don’t usually listen to warnings,” laughed Brzezinski.
“They did here,” Roberts replied.
“I think they did,” Scarborough agreed. “I think that’s the only thing that can explain it, as you look at these pictures and the devastation, the only thing that can explain a death toll that was actually half of what we heard it was yesterday.”
“We thought it would double,” Mika interjected.
“We were told it was going to double from the Medical Examiner’s office who, by the way, they need some calculators there,” Scarborough said, drawing a laugh from Mika Brzezinski. “They double counted which, again, caused a lot of heartache for those first 24 to 48 hours.”
Although the errant death toll was actually corrected within twelve hours, Scarborough’s point still stands. The early chaos of a storm that threw portions of the state back into the stone age, even as the emergency personnel who report to the medical examiner desperately tried to continue rescue efforts, is no excuse when you’ve got calculators. Good for Scarborough for holding those people accountable for the heartache they caused, and for doing it with such humor.
Here’s the clip, from MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
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