NORMAN — Two days after a tornado raked across the heart of Norman, residents and utility crews continued to pick up the pieces in the city's hardest hit areas.
The National Weather Service categorized the tornado as an EF-1. The twister brought with it winds in excess of 100 mph, damaging homes, businesses and ripping several large, mature trees out of the ground in Andrews Park.
About 20 people were injured during the storm, although most of those injuries were minor. A Norman Regional Hospital spokeswoman said Friday one person was admitted to the hospital, but that person's injuries were not considered serious.
Norman police Capt. Tom Easley said Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. crews worked Sunday along 24th Avenue SW, between Boyd Street and State Highway 9, where numerous power lines and utility poles were damaged.
According to OG&E's website, more than 800 Norman residents remained without power Sunday evening. Just after the storm passed, about 4,000 of OG&E's Norman customers were affected.
Rusty Surette, an American Red Cross spokesman, said Sunday a shelter remains open in Norman at St. Stephen's United Methodist Church, 1801 W Brooks St.
“We didn't have anybody there most of the day, I believe, but it is possible that more people could show up tonight or tomorrow,” Surrette said Sunday evening. “At one point, we had about 20 people in there, but it will remain open until it's clear it's not needed anymore.”
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak toured Norman on Saturday, checking out some of the heavily damaged areas.
Doak, who warned homeowners about fraudsters who typically arrive after natural disasters, urged affected residents to call (800) 522-0071 if they have concerns.
Friday's tornado touched down near Interstate 35 and Lindsey Street before skipping across the state's third-largest city. A tornado watch was issued at 3:59 that day. Three minutes later, the tornado touch
National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Smith said the first reports of damage came in eight minutes after the tornado watch was issued.
Nora Green, who was at Andrews Park on Sunday, is amazed more people weren't hurt given how fast the twister struck. She said she lives “about a half mile” from the heavily damaged city park.
“Usually we hear about it sooner … that it's coming this way,” Green said. “This one was scary because it just happened. And it happened in the middle of town, so I think it's amazing nobody was seriously injured or worse.”
CONTRIBUTING: Staff Writer Tiffany Gibson