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Okla. Insurance Commish: ‘Staggering’ Tornado Losses Top $1B

The Oklahoma Insurance Department says payments from the devastating May tornado outbreak across central Oklahoma have now topped $1 billion.

 “These numbers are staggering,” says Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak in a statement. “We've topped $1 billion in payments and the rebuilding is just beginning.

“We expected to see these amounts and they continue to go up every week,” he adds. “This is a major catastrophe that’s impacted thousands of Oklahomans.”

He says some survivors are still dealing with insurance and rebuilding issues that cannot be resolved quickly, but the department will be there for policyholders “until the last claim is paid."

Since May 19, nearly 91,000 claims have been filed, but some remain unresolved—which is not uncommon three to four months after a large-scale disaster, the department says. It does not keep figures on the number of claims resolved or still opened.

The Oklahoma Emergency Management Office says that for the month of May there were 56 tornadoes in the state that included an EF-4 tornado hitting Shawnee on May 19 and an EF-5—the most powerful—striking Moore on May 20. There were 387 injuries from the tornadoes during the week of May 19-25 and another 121 injuries caused by tornadoes and flooding during May 28-June 1.

The death count from the Moore tornado stands at 25 after a 90-year-old woman recently died of injuries sustained during the disaster. The tornado also demolished the Plaza Towers Elementary School, killing seven children. 

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