clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


The sign on the door of Fred's Sign Co. was not made by Fred.

"Warning," says the message from the city's public works department. "This structure is deemed unsafe for occupancy."Television images of the demolished Alfred E. Murrah Federal Building don't capture the extent of the damage inflicted on downtown Oklahoma City by a 4,800-pound truck bomb. The sign company 10 blocks away from the federal building was among more than 200 buildings left with everything from broken windows to major structural upheaval.

Total losses could top the $510 million in damage caused by the World Trade Center truck bomb in New York, the Insurance Information Institute said.

At St. Paul's Cathedral, an Episcopal church a short stroll from the federal building, the bomb blew out dozens of leaded and stained glass windows and cream-colored bricks. Even the chimes were affected: At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, they pealed six times.

Fourteen downtown buildings have been condemned and a five-block area remains closed to the public. Two of the dozens of people killed worked for the Water Resources Board across the street from the federal building.

Curtains dangled out windows on all 24 floors of Regency Tower, an apartment building near the blast site. Although the building has been ruled structurally safe, residents were told it could be weeks before they could move back in.

A half-block from the bomb site, at the 10-story Southwestern Bell Telephone building, only about 40 of the 200 windows on the side facing the Murrah building remained intact.

The sound of hammering can still be heard ringing across downtown as plywood sheets are nailed over the gaps left by shattered plate glass windows at dozens of businesses. Streets are littered with scraps of insulation, tarpaper and shards of broken glass.

"Thanks for all the helping hands!" read a message to volunteers scrawled on a boarded-up window of a business seven blocks from the blast.

The jumbled contents of the federal building, its northern face ripped away by the blast, can be seen from the command post two blocks away.

On the eighth floor, standing like a beacon amid piles of debris and twisted metal, is a bright red Coke machine. On floors 4 through 9, file cabinets are clearly visible - some upright and seemingly undented, others upside down and smashed. Papers spill from desks and folders in splintered offices blow in the wind.

A number of the severely damaged buildings were already old and run-down and needed only a strong push to collapse, authorities said.

On Wednesday, reporters were startled when a wall at a parking garage near the command post collapsed with a dull roar, kicking up a cloud of dust.

"You're going to be seeing more of that in the coming weeks," Assistant Fire Chief Jon Hansen said.