Deadly tornadoes move through central Oklahoma

Oklahoma tornadoes leave four dead, dozens injured, major property damage

FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: May 11, 2010 at 11:22 am •  Published: May 11, 2010

Deadly tornadoes ripped across Oklahoma on Monday, killing five people, injuring dozens and damaging homes and businesses, including an airport.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reported that three people were killed in Cleveland County and two in Oklahoma County.

A sixth death was indirectly linked to the storms. An Oklahoma County woman suffered a fatal heart attack while heading for a storm shelter, emergency officials said.

The Cleveland County deaths were in Stella, a community about eight miles west of Tecumseh.

A man died at SE 59 and Peebly Road. His body was found beneath a recreational vehicle, said David Barnes, Oklahoma County emergency manager.

Another Oklahoma County victim, a young boy, was killed by flying debris, officials said. No further details were available Monday night.

At least 57 people were treated at hospitals in Oklahoma County, Cleveland County and Pottawatomie County, according to state emergency management. Two were in critical condition.

More than 35,000 customers — most in the metro Oklahoma City area — were without power.

Forty to 50 homes were destroyed in Oklahoma County, and 30 to 40 were damaged, officials said. Additional damage was reported across the state. Among the worst:

Homes were destroyed along a swath extending from south of downtown Tecumseh to Highland Street.

In Norman, a tornado tossed vehicles from the road near State Highway 9 and U.S. 77.

Mobile homes were toppled at NE 120th and McGuire in Noble.

The Seminole Municipal Airport and the planes there suffered millions of dollars in damage.

‘We will be doing everything we can’
Gov. Brad Henry said Monday night state officials were working to coordinate state and local response efforts.

"Many communities have already suffered damages, and we are doing everything we can to deliver them the help they need,” Henry said. "Emergency management officials, state troopers and other first responders are in the field and will remain there as long as assistance is needed.”

To help coordinate response and recovery efforts, officials Monday evening activated the state’s emergency operations center in the state Capitol complex.

Representatives from the state Public Safety Department, the state Health Department and the Department of Human Services along with workers from the state Emergency Management Department were taking telephone calls from communities and agencies asking for assistance.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched to help with providing emergency aid and traffic assistance, said Emergency Management Department Director Albert Ashwood. Troopers were sent Monday night to several communities to help with security.

Representatives from the Military Department also were on hand at the center making plans to send National Guard troops to communities to help with recovery efforts and security.

Henry urged Oklahomans in communities struck by the storms to heed the warnings of local authorities to refrain from touring damaged areas and allow first responders to do their job.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all Oklahomans who have been impacted by the storms,” Henry said. "We will be doing everything we can to help them in the hours and days to come.”

‘It seemed like it was two seconds’
Amy Henderson, who spent the night volunteering at a grocery store in Stella, said the tornado went through the town shortly before 6 p.m.

"They hit mobile homes and some homes. They tore up our grocery store, Country Boy, on Highway 9,” Henderson said. "It’s tore up.”

Henderson said the storm also destroyed the football field and superintendent’s office in the Little Axe School District south of Stella, and the north end of Lake Thunderbird.

In Tecumseh, residents said the tornado struck quickly.


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