The first surveys are in from a string of deadly tornadoes that did tens of millions of dollars in damage, destroyed whole neighborhoods and impacted Oklahoma City’s water supply.
The National Weather Service, Norman Forecast Office’s preliminary survey shows Monday’s outbreak yielded at least six EF-3 tornadoes, as well as an EF-2 and three EF-1 tornadoes. They are continuing to investigate other damage areas.
As they do, the pain left by those tornadoes will endure for many. In the aftermath of the storms, stories continue to emerge about dramatic rescues and acts of courage.
As the weather erupted Monday, Mike Potter, deputy director of emergency management for Tecumseh, his friend, Lucas Cannon, and Potter’s 11-year-old son, Michael Potter, were chasing the storms and following the paths of destruction.
They saw a tornado bear down on an area just north of State Highway 9 and Harrah-Newalla Road near the community of Stella, northwest of Tecumseh.
Potter veered his vehicle toward the storm and drove until he came upon an overturned pickup in the road. But then they heard screaming up a hill about a quarter-mile away. They ran toward the cries for help and discovered a destroyed mobile home.
Nearby were Tammy Rider, 29, of Newalla, and her sons, Jason Smith, 8, Ethan Rider, 3, and Reagan, 1.
Potter and Cannon moved the family down the hill on stretchers made from wood debris as young Michael watched from his father’s pickup.
"I was scared and worried,” Potter said of experiencing the force and destruction of a tornado. "I will never forget that.”
Potter said the three children were severely injured when he and Cannon arrived.
Tammy Rider was dead by the time the two men came to help. Initially, it was reported the children had died on the way to the hospital.
The medical examiner’s office ruled Tammy Rider’s cause of death as blunt force trauma. The three children were in critical condition Wednesday at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Jason Smith is in a medically induced coma, and the other two children continue to improve, a family member said Wednesday. Two days after the deadly storm, friends and family remained vigilant and hopeful at the children’s bedsides.
Injuries and damage
In addition to Rider, Wilbern Patterson, 55, of Forest Grove, Ore., died after he stepped out of his recreational vehicle near SE 59 and Peebly Road, medical examiner spokeswoman Cherokee Ballard said.
A woman also died from a heart attack while trying to reach a storm shelter. Her name has not been released.
Central Oklahoma hospitals treated 116 people after the storm. Only a dozen people were still in the hospital Wednesday.
The largest number of injured were taken to Norman Regional Hospital and Moore Medical Center.
Of the 70 patients at those two hospitals, three remained Wednesday afternoon.
Oklahoma City Emergency Management’s preliminary damage assessment determined that 72 dwellings or businesses were destroyed, 483 were damaged, and 226 were affected in some way.
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