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Oklahoma tornadoes: 8 dead, 60 injured

Oklahoma tornadoes: Several large tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma on Tuesday afternoon. At least eight people are dead and 60 others injured.
BY BRYAN DEAN Modified: May 24, 2011 at 10:25 pm •  Published: May 24, 2011

Tom Chronister said no one was home except their two dogs and three cats. They found two of their pets alive and were searching for the others.

Piedmont resident Diane Smith said the family took shelter in a shelter at their home on State Highway 3 and hoped for the best.

“It was extremely loud,” Smith said. “We went to the bathroom and pulled a mattress over us and said a prayer. My son's alive. My husband's alive and my dog is alive. So you've got to be thankful for that.”

Smith's son, Coulton Parker, 16, said he saw the tornado coming.

“Out of nowhere our ears just popped,” he said. “We walked outside and it wasn't even recognizable.

The family's two separate two-car garages were destroyed, but the cars were still sitting inside what was left of the garages.

“It was very said,” Smith said. “It was overwhelming more than anything. I guess we're going to have to find a rent house and we're going to have to rebuild.”

Members of two Boy Scout troops and wrestlers from Piedmont wrestling teams were helping the family and their friends sift through debris.

Power lines were also down in the area, making some roads impassable.

The tornado destroyed three homes, a farm equipment barn and an airplane hanger along State Highway 74 south of State Highway 33 in Guthrie.

The same tornado moved through Cashion. A fire dispatcher there said numerous homes were destroyed on the south side of town.

Larry McDuffey, Caddo County emergency management director, said about half a dozen people were treated for minor cuts and bruises north of Lookeba, where the tornado first touched down.

“We probably lost half a dozen homes either damaged or destroyed,” McDuffey said. “Power lines are down. Trees uprooted. Livestock damaged.”

Minor damage was reported in the Stillwater area as the storm made its way northeast.

Multiple twisters cause injuries

Several other tornadoes also touched down, causing damage and injuries.

The same tornado that claimed a life in Chickasha moved into McClain County, and did damage in the Newcastle area.

Another tornado touched down southeast of Chickasha near Bradley and moved into McClain County where Goldsby Emergency Management Director Greg Giltner said there was significant damage on State Highway 74 toward Washington.

“We have houses that are flattened,” Giltner said. “We're going to have some injuries.”

In Washington, highway patrol Capt. Ronnie Hampton said seven houses were destroyed and several people were taken to a hospital.

The Goldsby Baptist Church was being used as a shelter.

Another tornado damaged a mobile home park and camping area near Canton Lake in Blaine County. A sheriff's dispatcher said an area on the northwest side of Canton Lake was “pretty much gone.”

She said a mobile home park and campers were in the area. One person who got trapped in a trailer was taken to a local hospital.

That tornado traveled northwest toward the Fairview area in Major County. A Fairview police dispatcher said there were reports of damage west of town on State Highway 60. The dispatcher said Cedar Springs Church and a couple of homes were damaged.

The National Weather Service in Norman warned in unusually strong terms earlier in the day that the threat for severe weather in the Oklahoma City area and much of the state was high. Those warnings proved accurate as the first tornadoes hit after 3 p.m. and continued through the evening.

Contributing: Staff writers Matt Patterson, Matt Dinger, Michael Kimball, Ann Kelley, Diana Baldwin and Darla Slipke.

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