LONE GROVE — Emergency crews in the Lone Grove area have completed initial rescue and recovery efforts from the EF-4 tornado that ripped through this town of about 4,600 people Tuesday. City Manager Marianne Elfert said the storm claimed eight lives and injured 46, 10 of whom were taken to hospitals. "We’re pretty confident that number won’t change,” Elfert said, "because we had grid searches with 10-man teams walking the entire path of the tornado.” Out of the 40 or so people initially listed as missing, emergency officials have been able to contact all but about four or five, and those people are believed to have left the area. She said 114 homes were destroyed in the storm. Elfert said Thursday evening that power had been restored to all properties ready to receive it. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials spent Thursday assessing damage. Elfert said the city and state are working with those agencies to seek federal assistance for uninsured losses. Residents returned Thursday to their homes, sorting through damaged belongings and salvaging what they could find. As the debris began piling up and people began to wonder what to do with it, the city initiated a burn ban until a cleanup plan could be settled. "We don’t have a landfill, so I don’t know what we’re going to do yet,” Elfert said. "We’ve got people working on it, but we’ve already had some brush fires, and the last thing our emergency responders need right now is to have to respond to other emergencies.” Schools will be open today for the first time since Tuesday. Oklahoma National Guardsmen provided security around the hardest-hit areas. Troops are expected to remain until Monday, when Gov. Brad Henry will re-evaluate the security situation, according to a news release.
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Mail service to continueThe tornado damaged Lone Grove’s post office, so the Ardmore post office is handling Lone Grove mail, according to the U.S. Postal Service. People with post office boxes in Lone Grove can retrieve their mail at the Ardmore facility. Mail deliveries in the Lone Grove area will not be interrupted except in areas where it is not safe for carriers or where access is closed.