Kent Researchers Assessing Okla. Tornado Damage

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KENT, Ohio — Researchers from Kent State University are heading to Oklahoma hoping the damage from Monday’s mammoth tornado will help make buildings and the people in them safer in the future.

Adam Cinderich, of the Kent State Geology Department, will be recording and assessing the damage on a street by street basis.

Lead Geologist Dr. Andrew Curtis said the team will then look for subtle variations that could provide clues as to the vulnerability of structures based on geographical features in the area or where the buildings are relative to others around them.

“We have video that is encoded with GPS, so when we collect this data we can look at the amount of damage per building. When we map that out we can then see which buildings suffered most, which sides of the street suffered the most, are there any particular sort of geographic features,” Curtis said on Tuesday.

Team members have already been studying damage from smaller tornadoes in Joplin and Tuscaloosa.

“When you hear about a three-quarter of a mile tornado path that does not necessarily mean to say that everything in that three-quarter miles is going to be damaged in the same way, so we are going to be looking for those fine scale variations,” said Curtis.

“When we find those (variations) we can then potentially start to sort of make suggestions about which types of families are more likely to be at risk, given where their home is if a tornado comes in a certain direction,” said Curtis.

“Some of it may have to do with geography. Some will be the urban landscape. Certain buildings will protect others. Certain building sill act as debris to smash into other buildings. So all of these features are going to be captured,” said Curtis.

Curtis believes the research will have an added benefit of helping communities plan a more logical recovery that benefits everyone involved.

“We want to try to improve the recovery afterwards, have a little more systematic guideline for the best way to recover and to do that you have to have this baseline,” said Curtis.

For extended coverage on the Oklahoma tornadoes, click here.

*Follow the latest from KFOR in Oklahoma City