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Two fatal Oklahoma tornadoes upgraded to EF-4 rating

Weather service estimates fatal tornadoes packed winds up to 200 mph. Despite a forecast of rain, some expect volunteers to be on hand to help others today.

BY JOHNNY JOHNSON Modified: May 15, 2010 at 6:05 pm •  Published: May 15, 2010

Of the 18 or so tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma on Monday, the two fatal ones were the strongest, packing winds up to 200 mph, the National Weather Service said.

On Friday, the National Weather Service used additional ground and aerial survey data to upgrade two of the six EF-3 rated tornadoes to an EF-4 rating.

The Moore-Choctaw tornado, which killed 55-year-old Wilbern Patterson, was rated as an EF-4 because of photographic evidence of a residential area near Interstate 40 and Choctaw near the spot where a recreational vehicle blew over on Patterson.

The Norman-Little Axe tornado, which resulted in the death of 29-year-old Tammy Rider, was upgraded because of damage assessments near the end of the tornado track.

Tornadoes are rated from 0 to 5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale based on the damage they cause. An EF-3 twister has wind speeds of between 136 and 165 mph. An EF-4 tornado has wind speeds between 166 and 200 mph.

Rains expected
Despite a forecast of continued heavy rains today, emergency responders are still expecting a blitz of volunteers and affected homeowners taking advantage of the weekend to clean up or repair storm damage in some of the most hard-hit areas.

"We were originally expecting about 1,000 people, but I think someone said there may be 1,500,” District 2 Special Projects Manager Myles Davidson said.

Davidson said he’s not worried about the rain, because at 8 a.m. Friday in the middle of heavy rains, a group of 50 volunteers showed up ready to go to work helping clean up the storm damage.

"The Oklahoma spirit is doing well, and people are still showing up,” he said.

County officials have been alerted that the Church of Latter-day Saints is bringing in a team of about 1,000 people, and other religious and corporate groups are also expected to show up in force, Davidson said.

Anyone who wants to volunteer to help neighbors affected by the EF-4 tornado that ripped through the Choctaw area, should show up at the District 2 barn at 7105 S Anderson, near the intersection of Interstate 240, Davidson said.

For those who want to help but aren’t able to do the physical labor, Davidson said donations of work gloves, masks, snacks, water and sports drinks will be gladly accepted.

"We’re gonna try to keep our volunteers fed and hydrated,” Davidson said.

Water bans lifted
Oklahoma City lifted its ban on outdoor watering Friday after power was restored to the Lake Draper Water Treatment Plant.

City officials said OG&E crews had to restore more than three miles of downed power lines to get the plant back online. OG&E power outages Sign/view a guest book for the victims Share your photos Ongoing coverage


HOW TO HELP
The American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma is accepting cash donations for the relief fund. Text "redcross” to 90999 to make an automatic $10 donation billed to your cell phone. People can also donate by phone at 228-9500. The Salvation Army is accepting financial donations at www.salvationarmyusa.org and (800) 725-2769. Donations should be designated for Oklahoma tornado assistance. No in-kind donations are needed.

HOW TO GET HELP
Disaster Service Centers

Disaster Service Centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in Seminole and Norman. The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, St. Vincent-DePaul and other relief agencies and faith-based groups will be on-hand to provide resources and information to victims.

Locations:

→Norman: Crosspointe Church, 24th Avenue SE and Hwy 9

→Seminole: Seminole State College, 2701 Boren Boulevard

Food
A mobile feeding unit at Interstate 240 and Anderson Road is run by the Central Oklahoma Area Command of the Salvation Army. The Oklahoma City Canteen remains active at the Oklahoma County District 2 barn until 7 p.m. Saturday.

While the Salvation Army has ceased operations in Cleveland County Wednesday evening, crews will return to the Prairie Creek Village trailer park in Slaughterville on Saturday to provide boxes of food and hot meals.

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