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

/> "We got no warning,” said Shirley Bryan. "I could hear no sirens. I didn’t hear nothing, just some glass through the window, and that’s it.”

Bryan, who is originally from California, hurt her ribs trying to take shelter in the bathroom.

"I’ve been through earthquakes and didn’t see this much damage,” she said.

Her son-in-law, Cody Klutts, rummaged through the debris scattered around their property. Looking at the ground, he said, "There’s just random stuff out here.” He picked up an object. "Look,” he said, showing it to his wife. "A diskette.”

The hardest hit part of the city was on Highland Street.

Laura Watts said she and her family took cover in a storm shelter there as the tornado approached.

"We didn’t hear anything because our kids were screaming,” she said. "I was crying. It just seemed like it was two seconds, and it was over.”

Poles were snapped along the street. Power lines draped across the street, and felled trees littered yards.

A tornado struck near SH 9 and U.S. 77 in Norman.

Curtis Thomas was working the drive-through window of a nearby Subway restaurant when it hit. He saw two electrical poles snap. He watched one car slip off the highway, then about 10 cars blew backwards and a couple of cars flipped over.

Steve Meisenheimer was serving sandwiches at the Subway when a manager called to tell him to take cover. The tornado had already hit by then. He watched as the roof of a business called Perfect Swing was blown off.

Thomas said he saw boats shattering at a nearby boat business.

The two employees huddled with about 12 customers in the bathroom until the storm passed.

‘You could just hear the metal ripping’
A tornado destroyed about a mile of homes and businesses along SH 99 in Seminole. The area is primarily industrial. Power lines were downed and snapped in half, and roofs were scattered along the path.

Dale Wallace, airport manager, lost his truck, his hangar and his airplane during the tornado.

"You could just hear the metal ripping,” he said. "Then the hail beat on the buildings until every window was out.”

She was hiding under a desk in the airport office when the tornado hit.

Jake Curry, of Seminole, said the tornado put him temporarily out of business. He owns an oil pipeline company, and the tornado blew his planes out of the hangar.

The planes were shoved out like toys, some several hundred feet from their hangars. Hangar doors were strewn across the airport. The smell of airplane fuel lingered in the air.

‘We were crying, and we were all praying’
The only room not damaged in R.D. Hood’s home was the one he huddled in with six others when a tornado hit.

Hood, 73, had lived in the house since 1966. Now it is a total loss.

Rylan McNeely, 16, was driving a sport utility vehicle south on S Hiwassee Road with four passengers when they saw a tornado a half mile away. He stopped, and he and his passengers ran into Hood’s home.

"It was hailing golf balls,” McNeely said. "You could see the tornado coming toward us.”

They felt the office in the center of the house shake violently as the roof over the living room and part of dining room was scattered for a quarter-mile north.

"We got in the closet. We were crying, and we were all praying,” McNeely said.

When it stopped, they found the carport bent and most of the roof missing. But in the living room, a table with family portraits was untouched. A glass china cabinet was unscathed, but the ceiling above it showed sky.

Stephen Markee, 16, was in the SUV with McNeely.

"I thought we were going to die,” Markee said. "It was quick. It was like 30 to 45 seconds from when we were in there, then the roof was gone and it just calmed down.”


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