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Oklahoma tornadoes: 2 men killed in Woodward identified; tornado preliminarily rated at EF-3

BY MICHAEL KIMBALL and TIFFANY GIBSON Modified: April 15, 2012 at 6:18 pm •  Published: April 15, 2012

6 p.m. Rick Smith, a warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norman, sent a message on Twitter as he was leaving Woodward after surveying the damage that the tornado now is preliminarily rated an EF-3, which has sustained winds from 136 to 165 mph. Smith said there is still more analysis to do.

4:20 p.m. Amy Elliott, spokeswoman for the medical examiner, said officials identified two men killed in the storm as Frank Hobbie and Derrin Juul. She said female children, ages 5 and 7, were found with Hobbie in a mobile home park, and a 10-year-old girl was found dead with Juul.

The children's names have not been released.

3:50 p.m. Michael Scotten, forecaster with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Norman, said the Woodward tornado has been preliminarily rated an EF-2. He said a tornado with this rating typically has winds between 111-135 mph.

3 p.m. Woodward Public Schools Superintendent Tim Merchant said classes will be canceled tomorrow due to storm damage in the area.

“We still have so many families without electricity, and a lot of the roads aren't open for our routes,” he said.

Merchant said Highland Park Elementary school near Webster Avenue and 28 Street sustained minor damage to the roof. He said the main concern for staff will be attending to students' needs and providing counseling.

All schools will reopen Tuesday. Merchant said this upcoming Friday was originally scheduled for a professional day for staff only but will become a regular school day due to the storms.

2:40 p.m. According to the OG&E System Watch, about 579 customers are without power in Woodward. Crews are working to restore power.

12:55 p.m. Woodward Mayor Roscoe Hill said during a live TV broadcast that many people joined in search-and-rescue efforts Sunday morning to help storm victims.

“It's really a devastating thing to our city,” he said. “I think the main thing is all you can do is pray for us.”

12:30 p.m. Gov. Mary Fallin expected to tour damage in Woodward at 2 p.m.

12:10 p.m. Twelve people spent the night the shelter operated by The American Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma at the Living Word Fellowship Church, 1310 Oklahoma Ave.

The shelter will be open indefinitely to help with temporary needs and to serve people who need a place to stay, American Red Cross spokesman Rusty Surette said.

“It's a pretty good mix of people who are coming here looking for help and people who are coming here trying to help,” Surette said.

The best way to help is to donate money the American Red Cross, he said.

The Salvation Army also is accepting monetary donations.

11:15 a.m. Amy Elliott, spokeswoman for the state medical examiner, said three children and two adults died from injuries suffered in the storm.

11 a.m. Irma Sanchez, 43, spent Sunday morning salvaging through things at her brother's home at the Hideaway mobile home park in Woodward. She said she found their family Bible that had already survived a fire at a previous house. Little else could be saved.

She said she and her sister stopped by to get her brother and sought shelter elsewhere.

“We had our brother out just in time,” Sanchez said. “He's handicapped. He lost all he had. We just lost our mother 8 months ago.”

Other homes in the mobile home park also sustained damage.

10:45 a.m. Matt Lehenbauer, Woodward County Emergency Manager, said 89 homes and 13 businesses were destroyed in the area by the tornado. He said at least 29 people were injured and five people were killed.

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