The Oklahoma Insurance Department says a preliminary estimate suggests the cost of the tornado that hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore could be more than $2 billion.
Spokeswoman Calley Herth told The Associated Press that the early tally of damages is based on visual assessments of an extensive damage zone stretching more than 17 miles and the fact that the tornado was on the ground for 40 minutes.
She says the monetary damage caused by Monday's tornado could be greater than the $2 billion in damage from the 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., which left a smaller, three-mile trail of destruction.
The residents of Moore, Okla., affected by a deadly tornado are coming back to find their belongings scattered and their homes left in pieces.
Monday's tornado killed at least 24 people, countless homes and reduced one elementary school almost entirely to rubble. While officials still grapple with how to rebuild and how to pay for it, people in this Oklahoma City suburb are anxious to start the process of rebuilding.
Colleen Arvin, an 83-year-old grandmother, walked with her son and grandsons through what was left of her home. Part of her roof was sitting in the front yard, and the siding from the front of the house was gone.
She laughed when a grandson found her keys. She said: "Oh thank God. We can get in the house."
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says U.S. officials are "going neighborhood to neighborhood" to make sure Oklahoma gets the help it needs.
FEMA's Craig Fugate promises in an interview that officials won't desert Oklahoma, saying "We don't leave here when the cameras leave. We stay here and get the job done."
Fugate tells CNN that the agency has enough money to assist the people of Moore, Okla., who were caught in the path of destruction as the nearly 1.3-mile-wide twister struck Monday afternoon.
He says officials will work aggressively to help people find temporary housing and says FEMA is working with other officials to get services restored.
The emergency management director arrived in the state Tuesday, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is due there Wednesday.
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