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Archive for Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rebuilding unlikely in tornado-ravaged town

May 14, 2008

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— No government money will be awarded for rebuilding any of the 114 homes leveled by a deadly tornado that tore through one of the nation's most polluted areas, state and federal officials said Tuesday on a tour of the region.

Saturday's tornado was responsible for seven deaths in Picher. The severe weather killed another 20 people in the Plains and the Southeast.

The tornado struck the heart of a federal Superfund site, where a government buyout of homes is under way in an area beset with mine collapses, open shafts, acid water that stains Tar Creek orange and mountains of lead-contaminated waste. Local children have tested with dangerous levels of lead in their blood.

The Environmental Protection Agency has begun testing to determine whether the tornado scattered enough mining waste to raise lead levels in the air and soil in the 800-person town, which was once a thriving hub of 20,000 people.

The buyout will not prevent federal disaster aid from flowing to the area, but the aid will help people relocate, not rebuild homes in the area.

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