Tornadoes Are Growing Threat From Population Movement (Update 1)

Updated from 111:30 a.m. ET to include comments from President Obama's address Tuesday morning.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As terrible as the tornadoes in Oklahoma on Monday were, this is not a unique event, even in the city of Moore, which is about 10 miles south of Oklahoma City.

As of 10:00 a.m. ET Tuesday, rescue workers were in the midst of a massive effort to find survivors in the rubble in Moore and other suburbs of Oklahoma City, and the Oklahoma state medical examiner's office said 24 bodies had been recovered from the wreckage, according to a Reuters report.

"Numerous neighborhoods were completely leveled," Sgt. Gary Knight of the Oklahoma City Police Department said in a telephone interview with the New York Times. "Neighborhoods just wiped clean."

Scores of injuries were reported, two schools were destroyed and the Moore Medical Center was directly hit by a tornado. The National Weather Center said on Tuesday there was a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms and its Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., was "forecasting the development of tornadoes . . . large hail and damaging winds over parts of the Southern Plains and the Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas region today and tonight."

President Obama on Monday night declared Oklahoma a disaster area and authorized the federal aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie. FEMA is taking disaster assistance applications at its Web site, which also includes information on where to find immediate local assistance.

The pesident addressed the nation at a 10 a.m. Tuesday press conference, outlining in particular the authorization of aid through FEMA and describing his communication with authorities in Oklahoma.

Acknowledging continuing threats of severe weather and a long road ahead for recovery for the people of Moore and other affected areas, including, "in some cases, enormous grief that has to be absorbed," the president said, "we are a nation that stands by our fellow citizens."

"We don't yet know the full extent of the damage from this week's storm, " the president said. "We don't know both the human and economic losses that may have occurred. We know that severe rumbling of bad weather through much of the country still continues and we're also preparing for hurricane season that begins next week. But, if there is hope to hold onto not just in Oklahoma but around the country it's the knowledge that the good people there in Oklahoma are better prepared for this type of storm than most. And what they can be certain of is that Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need, because we're a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes."

At this point, none of the large property and casualty (P&C) insurance providers, including Allstate ( ALL), Travelers ( TRV), Chubb ( CB) and American International Group ( AIG), have issued press releases related to the disaster in Oklahoma.

Summary Numbers for Thunderstorm/Tornado Damage

Severe thunderstorms in the U.S., which for the purpose of insurance industry reporting include tornadoes but not hurricanes, led to $27.7 billion in economic losses during 2012, with insured losses totaling $14.9 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute, which cites data provided by Munich Re and NatCatSERVICE.

During 2011, economic losses from U.S. thunderstorms totaled a record $46.5 billion, with insurers seeing a record $25.8 billion in losses.

During 2010, thunderstorms and tornadoes led to $13.2 billion in economic losses and $9.5 billion in insured losses.

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