Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
Aerial images of destruction on a stunning scale.
Since Monday's horrific tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, we've gotten a steady stream of snapshots of the damage left in its wake and the natural disaster that caused it: Here, you can see scenes from the ground, satellite imagery of the storm as it passed overhead, and after-the-fact maps of the tornado's precise trail south of Oklahoma City.
But the above image caught our breath in an entirely different way. This aerial imagery, taken mid-week, is now included in the Google Crisis Map for the disaster. The images reveal the path of the tornado as an eraser rubbed over the landscape, leveling homes into a monochromatic trail of rubble. Only the street grid remains intact.
Zoom in far enough, and you can see the neatly parked cars of the residents who've returned to inspect what's left. From above, and seen at mid-week, their vehicles look oddly out of place parked in front of homes that no longer exist:
Google's Crisis Map also lets you toggle between aerial imagery taken of the town on April 29th, and again this week. Here is the same neighborhood seen above prior to the tornado:
Aerial imagery always has a way of portraying scale that can't be captured at street level, although the story shown here is a less intimate one. You can fly over the rest of the damage here: