LONE GROVE — An EF-4 tornado ripped through this small community killing eight or nine people, injuring about 50 and leaving a wake of destruction behind winds topping 165 mph, authorities said. Throughout the day, state authorities had confirmed eight dead. This evening, Carter County Sheriff Ken Grace said a ninth death was a man who died today at a Dallas hospital. Michelann Ooten, spokeswoman for state emergency management, could not confirm the sheriff's report. A state medical examiner spokeswoman also said she could not confirm the report, saying if the man died in Texas, the body would be turned over to authorities there. Mercy Memorial Health Center in Ardmore treated 46 victims of Tuesday night's tornado in Lone Grove, a town home to about 5,000 people. Ten of those treated were admitted to the hospital with more serious injuries, although none were in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. The Lone Grove tornado was the largest of four that touched down on Tuesday. In Oklahoma City near Northwest Expressway and Rockwell Avenue, a tornado touched down about 2:30 p.m., damaging several businesses in the area. The tornado continued for about 30 minutes going through Edmond, where it damaged more than 200 homes. The tornado reached a maximum strength of EF-2. A tornado in Logan County touched down about 3:30 p.m. just south of Langston. The twister did not cause any damage so its strength was unknown, according to the National Weather Service. A tornado in Pawnee destroyed a barn and caused roof and tree limb damage, according to the National Weather Service. The small twister was rated as an EF-0. The outbreak prompted Gov. Brad Henry to issue a state of emergency for 17 Oklahoma counties. By far the most devastation occurred in Lone Grove, where state and local authorities confirmed nine dead. The tornado touched down at 6:50 p.m. near Petersburg and lifted at 8 p.m. in southeast Murray County. A spokeswoman for the state medical examiner’s office said no children are among the dead. Victims’ names have not been released. Lone Grove residents whose homes are in areas affected by the tornado will be allowed to return to their homes on Thursday, Ooten said. Residents can get an access pass from Lone Grove City Hall during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and can use the pass to get into their neighborhoods from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. “We know we have lost many lives in Lone Grove, and we pray the losses do not rise any higher,” Gov. Brad Henry said this morning. “We are doing everything we can to help the victims of yesterday’s tornadoes. We have dispatched state emergency management personnel and additional law enforcement officers to the hardest-hit areas ... to assist with response efforts there. “We are coordinating resources with local first responders and emergency management officials to make sure our response and rescue efforts are as effective as possible. We will do everything we can to get Oklahomans the assistance they need.” Sheriff’s officials said Lone Grove was devastated when a tornado estimated to be a half-mile wide tore through the middle of town, ripping buildings from slabs, demolishing dozens of mobile homes and snapping trees and power lines in its path. Lone Grove survivors recall tornado — Mike Graham, 47, of Lone Grove, went to check on his parents at their single-story frame home. He and his parents gathered in the center hallway, and the tornado struck the home. "My ears pressured as it came through," he said. The home was destroyed, but he and his parents survived. His mobile home, which is nearby, was destroyed, as was a brick home next door to his mobile home. — Mike Wolford doesn’t know if his home survived. “We don’t know much; they won’t let anybody back there,” Wolford said. “I know nothing about my place until I see it. My girlfriend just called, and they won’t let anyone in until this evening.” Wolford was in Lone Grove, standing in a convenience store parking lot at Brock Road and U.S. 70. Wolford left his mobile home in Lone Grove and drove to Ardmore about 10 minutes before the tornado struck the city. Within 15 minutes, he saw about 25 carloads of people leave the trailer park where he lived. “I have never see anything like that,” Wolford said. CONTRIBUTING: Staff Writers Brian Sargent, Ron Jackson, Carrie Coppernoll and Ken Raymond
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Audio: Carter County sheriff Ken Grace on tornado
Audio: Trooper Bryant Harris addressing tornado
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