The magnitude of devastation from the tornado that struck Moore and south Oklahoma came into sharper focus Wednesday as the state medical examiner released names of the dead and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett announced preliminary damage estimates in the range of $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
Officials said shortly after noon Wednesday that six people were still missing, but all six had been located by about 5 p.m., said Stan May of the Oklahoma Incident Management team.
Two couples (four individuals) were found alive at area hotels after investigators tracked them down using credit card transactions, May said.
The other two individuals were found at the morgue, where their previously unidentified bodies were among the 24 reported earlier as dying from the tornado.
Rescue workers think they can account for all children at Plaza Towers Elementary School, said Albert Ashwood, director of the state Department of Emergency Management.
Seven students there were listed among the dead.
Official said 353 people were injured in the storm.
Gov. Mary Fallin announced Wednesday that a memorial and prayer service will be held Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Moore. The church is at 301 NE 27. Times are pending.
The service will honor and remember the victims of Monday's tornado that killed 24 people in Moore and south Oklahoma City, as well as Sunday's tornado that killed two near Shawnee, she said. It will be open to the public.
“Together, we can honor those we have lost, pray for those they left behind, and begin to heal together,” the governor said.
Emergency management officials renewed their plea for individuals impacted by Monday's tornado to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency at (800) 621-3362 to confirm their safety and receive information concerning relief assistance.
President Barack Obama announced plans to visit the state Sunday.
“The numbers of this event are becoming even more staggering: 33,000 people affected; 12,000 to 13,000 homes impacted, property damages — $1.5 to $2 billion dollars,” Cornett said.
Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis announced that city residents whose homes were leveled would be allowed to visit their home sites beginning at 3 p.m., although in many cases there is not a lot left.
“I'm no stranger to disasters, but this is a rough one,” said Gail McGovern, president of the American Red Cross.
McGovern said Oklahomans who lose homes in tornadoes tend to stay with friends or relatives and she doesn't know how many were left homeless.
Only 29 people spent the night in shelters, despite the devastation, she said.
Cornett said at his urging, the Big 12 baseball tournament originally slated to begin Wednesday in Oklahoma City will begin Thursday, instead.
“I appreciate their commitment to this,” he said. “At a time like this, having an appropriate diversion might be good for us and our morale, but it's going to be a long weekend.
“I'm going to be throwing out the first pitch at 9 a.m. and attending the first funeral at 10 a.m.,” the mayor said.
Although much of Moore was destroyed, all three high schools are planning to follow through with graduation exercises Saturday at the Cox Convention Center.
The medical examiner released on Wednesday morning the names of 16 of the 24 known dead.
The list contains the names of 10 children, including two infants. The causes of death of six children were listed as asphyxia or mechanical asphyxia. In these cases, mechanical asphyxia refers to suffocation and not drowning, officials said.
The known fatalities and causes of deaths are as follows: Terri Long, 49, multiple blunt force injuries; Megan Futrell, 29, blunt force trauma of the head and torso; Case Futrell, 4 months, blunt force trauma of the head; Shannon Quick, 40, multiple injuries; Sydnee Vargyas, 7 months, blunt force trauma of the head; Karrina Vargyas, 4, multiple blunt force injuries; Jeany Neely, 38 blunt force trauma of the chest; Antonia Candelaria, 9, mechanical asphyxia; Kyle Davis, 8, blunt force trauma; Ja'Nae Hornsby, 9, asphyxia; Sydney Angle, 9, mechanical asphyxia; Emily Conatzer, 9, mechanical asphyxia; Nicolas McCabe, 9, mechanical asphyxia; Christopher Legg, 9, mechanical asphyxia; Cindy Plumley, 45, multiple blunt force trauma; Deanna Ward, 70, blunt force trauma of the torso; Rick Jones, 54, head trauma, blunt force; William Sass, 63, blunt force trauma of the chest; Gina Stromski, 51, multiple blunt force injuries; Tewauna Robinson, 45, multiple blunt force trauma; Randy Smith, 39, multiple blunt force trauma; Leslie Johnson, 46, multiple blunt force trauma; Hemant Bhonde, 65, multiple blunt force trauma; and Richard Brown, 41, multiple injuries.
Contributing: Zeke Campfield