Some central Oklahoma residents were bleary-eyed Monday morning after spending hours in tornado shelters the night before. Heavy storms hit the state late Sunday, packing high winds and in some cases spawning tornadoes. Counties across the state battled flash flooding while cleaning up debris after a weekend of hazardous weather. High water is blamed for one death. More than 11,000 Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. customers were without power Monday morning. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported about 1,800 power outages across the state at 9 p.m. OG&E had 609 customers and PSO had 1,162 customers without power statewide. Many of the powerless customers were in south Oklahoma City, where heavy rain caused a roadway leading to a bridge to wash into a creek and overwhelmed storm drains, flooding low-lying streets.
In the northern Lincoln County town of Agra, the lone tornado siren didn't work early Monday when its switch was flipped, said Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Joey Wakefield.
Instead, police and volunteer firefighters drove through town, blaring their sirens to alert about 350 residents.
The tornado siren, apparently hit by lightning, was repaired by daybreak.
Possible tornadoesTeams from the National Weather Service were dispatched to several locations Monday to confirm reports of weekend tornadoes and to determine the twisters' forces. There were reports of at least five tornado touchdowns, the National Weather Service said. Crews surveyed damage from an apparent tornado in Sweetwater in Roger Mills County on Saturday and in Seminole County on Sunday, said Bruce Thoren of the weather service. In Sweetwater, officials believe a tornado Saturday caused at least $2 million in damage to the school. Most of the buildings around the school were damaged or destroyed, including a multi-purpose building, Floyd Pickering said. Storms also caused damage in Seminole County, where officials believe a tornado touched down late Sunday. One woman was trapped in her trailer home Sunday night after strong winds blew the trailer off its foundation near Little. Wind gusts also peeled the roofs off two barns in Seminole County, said Michelann Ooten, spokeswoman for the state Emergency Management Department. Power lines were pulled down along State Highway 99A, Ooten said. Tornado sirens sounded through the night in Shawnee, where residents headed to shelters as another strong line of storms moved in about 3:30 a.m.
Rainfall blamed for deathAs residents in storm-ravaged parts of the state worked to clean up after weekend storms, they also had to battle flash flooding. Flooding also was reported in Kay, Lincoln, Rogers, Tulsa, Woodward, and Atoka counties. Henry H. Fletcher, 71, of Canute died after his car was swept away in high water on a county road two miles west of Canute in Washita County on Sunday night. A family member found Fletcher's car about 275 feet east of the roadway early Monday morning, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Troopers said Fletcher had drowned. In Lincoln County, a Tryon man was trapped in floodwaters on his way to work. Bruce Houseman drove his pickup into nearly 20 feet of water that had settled on a roadway Monday morning. Air bags in the truck deployed, but Houseman was able to escape, Wakefield said. "We continue to receive reports of motorists stranded in high water,” Ooten said. "We just want to keep stressing, turn around and don't drown. Your life is worth more than the inconvenience of having to take an alternate route.” Beckham County Emergency Management Director Billy Bankston said the North Fork of the Red River was out of its banks. Storms dumped had more than 4 inches of rain in Tulsa County after midnight. In southeastern Oklahoma, rain continued to fall, filling up streams and creeks. A storm system that hovered over Atoka County for several hours Monday morning caused flooding, but no other real damage, said Eddy Cooke, Atoka emergency management chief.
South side overwhelmedIn Oklahoma City, Floodwaters swamped SW 59 Monday morning, forcing street crews to close a 200-foot section of the road west of Santa Fe when drainage in the area failed. A private contractor had been working on a drainage project in the area, but it is not known if that project contributed to the flooding, city street chief Mike DeGiacomo said. The 200-foot stretch of road near Santa Fe will be closed for emergency paving and drainage repairs until May 24.
Road fell awayIt will be much longer before a bridge on SE 17 near Central Avenue is repaired. A few feet of road approaching the bridge fell into a creek about 9 a.m. Monday. SE 17, which connects neighborhoods on the east and west side of Lightning Creek, is now closed. Plans to replace the bridge were already in place before Monday's storm damage and it should be open again by early fall, assistant city engineer Laura Story said.
City crews respondOklahoma City street crews had to close a stretch of Western Avenue near NW 8 because of heavy wind damage to an auto repair shop. Winds shattered the windows on the front of the building and sent bricks into the road. DeGiacomo said a stretch of Western will remain closed for a few days until inspectors can determine whether the building is structurally sound. Wind also tore the roof off an apartment building near SE 15 and High Avenue. The city fire department responded to 116 calls between 11 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. Monday, which is slightly above average, fire officials said. Oklahoma City police Master Sgt. Gary Knight said officers responded to a few weather-related accidents, but nothing substantial. In Moore, fire erupted about 6:30 a.m. Monday in a home at 117 Eberle Drive that was struck by lightning. The fire caused about $40,000 in damage, the fire department estimated. No one was hurt. Contributing: Staff Writers Previch, Ann Kelley, Anthony Thornton and Ron Jackson
Javier DeLoera, left, cuts branches of fallen tree limbs in front of a law office at NW 13 and Walker after heavy rains and high winds. Helping are his cousin, Mario DeLoera, center, and Javier DeLoera, Jr., right. By JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN
How much fell?Oklahoma Climatological Survey rainfall totals in inches from 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday: •El Reno: 3.17 •Norman: 2.42 •E Oklahoma City: 2.5 •N Oklahoma City: 2.3 •W Oklahoma City: 2.14 •Shawnee: 2.15 •Spencer: 2.78