Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency in 25 more counties Monday as the death toll continued to climb from tornadoes and torrential rains that swept across central Oklahoma.
The state medical examiner's office said at least 18 people were dead after the body of a girl was found Monday afternoon along the Deep Fork River in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City firefighters continued to search for five people who still were missing.
The state Health Department said 115 people were treated for injuries at Oklahoma City area hospitals as a result of Friday's storms.
The medical examiner's office Monday added five to its list of confirmed fatalities, including a boy and girl who had not been identified. The list now includes six children.
Firefighters recovered a girl's body about 1:20 p.m. near Interstates 35 and 44 along the Deep Fork River in Oklahoma City, said Marc Woodard, the deputy chief.
Woodard said crews still were searching the Deep Fork for a woman.
The two were among seven people from two families who sought shelter Friday night beneath a bridge and were swept away by rising water as the slow-moving storm drenched the metro area with more than 5 inches of rain.
A search continued for four others missing on the Oklahoma River near the Dell campus at SW 15 and I-44, Woodard said.
Power, water, roads
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said 15,754 homes and businesses, including 6,500 in Oklahoma City, remained without power.
Most were Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. customers in the Oklahoma City area. Thirteen were Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative customers, most in the Wetumka area.
About 8,300 Cox telephone customers, most in south Oklahoma City, were without service.
The Oklahoma City-County Health Department offered free bacterial testing of water from private wells that may have been contaminated by floodwaters.
Authorities dispatched crews to repair washed out roadways.
The Silver Creek bridge on Spencer Road between NE 36 and NE 50 was closed, said Brian Jasper, the Oklahoma County District 1 superintendent.
The bridge appeared to have been undermined by rushing waters and to have shifted, Jasper said. Its safety was being evaluated, he said.
Colorado storm chaser Tim Samaras, his son, Paul, and colleague Carl Young, were killed in the El Reno area.
Meteorologist Mike Bettes of The Weather Channel was injured when a twister in the same area threw his SUV 200 yards.
“I hate to see anyone get killed in a tornado. I hate to see Tim get killed,” University of Oklahoma researcher Howie Bluestein said. “The tornadoes were very powerful.”
Bluestein said Samaras developed compact, lightweight instruments to record video and to measure temperature and pressure in tornadoes.
Bluestein said he and two graduate students were out Friday in the El Reno area with a mobile Doppler radar. They took measurements as multiple vortices formed around a common center.
Bluestein said his team's measurements showed a strong tornado, possibly stronger than the National Weather Service's preliminary rating of EF3 with winds of 156 mph.
Emphasizing the figures were unofficial, Bluestein said his team measured wind speeds of 300 mph above the ground in the tornado that struck El Reno. That twister is thought to have killed eight people.
Bluestein said while recording the measurements, they decided the storm was getting too close. They pulled onto Interstate 40 and drove east through Oklahoma City to Interstate 240, where they got stuck in heavy traffic.
“If you're stuck in traffic on an interstate, there's nowhere to go,” he said.
Bluestein said an emergency responder spotted their truck and escorted them off the highway. They drove around the back side of Lake Thunderbird, then west into Norman on State Highway 9.
“Exactly what happened to Tim and to Mike Bettes of The Weather Channel we don't know,” Bluestein said. “I imagine they were trying to outrun the tornado.”
New York Daily News.
Adair, Caddo, Canadian,
Also included are Mayes, McClain, McCurtain, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Payne, Pottawatomie, Pushmataha, Sequoyah, Stephens, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington counties.
Declaration of a state of emergency marks the first step toward seeking federal assistance.