One year ago, Picher felt tornado's wrath

By Sheila Stogsdill Published: May 1, 2009

It was a killer tornado

It was the deadliest tornado in the state since May 3, 1999.

The one-mile wide vortex traveled 92 miles and ended near Neosho, Mo. A second tornado formed and merged with the first tornado just east of Quapaw, according to the National Weather Service. The storm crossed the state line, killing 14 people in Missouri. The 175 mph winds destroyed or damaged 200 homes.

“The tornado sped up everything,” Reeves said, referring to a $60 million Tar Creek federally funded buyout. “Some people were not quite ready (to leave), but with the tornado they didn't have a choice.”

Most people, especially the elderly, thought there was a chance they could stay in Picher, he said. About 125 people remain in the town.

“We will probably go through the end of the year,” Reeves said. “It's hard to shut down a town.”