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Oklahoma tornadoes: 2 men killed in Woodward identified; tornado preliminarily rated at EF-3

BY MICHAEL KIMBALL and TIFFANY GIBSON Modified: April 15, 2012 at 6:18 pm •  Published: April 15, 2012

He said he got the warning shortly after midnight. It was reported by the National Weather Service and warning sirens were activated.

But with the speed of storm, there was about three minutes of warning before the storm hit, Lehenbauer said.

This tornado came out of a squall line that was moving across all of western Oklahoma. When there's a squall line it's extremely difficult to pick out tornadic activity, even when there's a warning, he said.

9:15 a.m. Kyle Reynolds, 43, an assistant principal at Woodward High School, was at the school's prom when the first storm moved through Saturday night. He and others were cleaning up when the deadly tornado approached. They took shelter in the gymnasium, he said.

Reynolds called his daughter, who was home from college. She was riding out the storm in the safe room of the family's westside Woodward home.

After the storm passed, a neighbor called Reynolds to ask about her.

“He said ‘I'm going to go get her. Your house is gone,'” Reynolds said. “It makes you weak in the knees. You just don't know how to react to that.”

He is spending his Sunday assessing the damage.

9:05 a.m. The Woodward News reports those who died in the storm were two people southwest of Woodward near the Tangier area, two children at the Hideaway Trailer Park and a person who died at the hospital.

The News quotes City Manager Alan Riffel saying about 10 people are in critical condition.

8:25 a.m. Carole Beckett, 70, was picking through the remains of her house Sunday morning.

Beckett said she and her husband, Gordon, 76, thought the worst was over when they went to bed late Saturday night. Then a storm alarm awoke them, announcing a tornado was 8 minutes from Woodward. She started calling relatives and then went to take cover with her husband and dog, but they didn't get to their safe room before the tornado hit.

“They say that you can tell it's nearby by the sound, and I could,” Beckett said. “I'll never forget that sound for the rest of my life.”

She said they huddled on the bottom of their split-level home on west side of Woodward while glass shattered and the top level came down around them. The home was destroyed, but parts were left untouched, with framed pictures intact on walls that had fallen over.

The Becketts and their dog were not injured.

8:05 a.m. The American Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma has opened a shelter at the Living Word Fellowship Church, 1310 Oklahoma Ave.

People are asked not to take donations to the Woodward shelter.

Rusty Surette, American Red Cross spokesman, sent this email message:

“While we appreciate the spirit of our neighbors who want to help in this time of need, we are asking people to NOT to bring donations to the Woodward shelter at this time. We also ask that residents do NOT self-deploy to this area to volunteer help. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army are working with emergency agencies in the area to meet the needs of those who have been affected by this horrific storm.”

7:45 a.m. WOODWARD — Utility crews, search and rescue teams and other emergency and relief teams are pouring into this northwest Oklahoma town Sunday morning where five fatalities have been reported from a tornado.

Michaelann Ooten with state Emergency Management Department confirmed five people are dead. Others are reported to be in critical condition.

The tornado hit the west and northwest parts of the city about 12:20 a.m., authorities said. Affected areas are closed to traffic because power lines are down and homes and businesses have been destroyed. Trees are uprooted and debris is strewed across the area.

Check back with NewsOK for developments.


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