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 hardesthit areas. Troops are expected to remain until Monday, when Gov. Brad Henry will re-evaluate the security situation, according to a news release. ‘She was already gone' Thor Clemmons, who sifted through the mangled remnants of his mobile home, remained optimistic he could find his pocket knife so he could cut away some of the debris in his way. Clemmons said he and his wife and their seven dogs loaded up and tried to get away from the tornado. Having escaped the worst of the damage, Clemmons said he headed back to try to help his neighbors. His next-door neighbor, an elderly man whose mobile home was also obliterated, was frantically searching for his wife. “I found her, but she was already gone,” Clemmons said. Grocery store donating food Misty Middleton, a cashier at Farmer's Market Grocery Store on U.S. 70, said the store hasn't had many customers since the tornado hit. But most of her customers are familiar to her, so Middleton said she's been anxious to see who walks in the door. “We're glad to see them, because that's normally the first time we know they're OK,” said Middleton, 31. The tornado knocked out power to the store and stock had to be replenished. The owners are donating groceries to families affected by the twister.
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