LAMONT - A cluster of tornadoes that battered homes and farms in the Lamont area Sunday night cut a path of destruction in some areas as wide as a quarter-mile and caused an estimated $2 million damage, officials said Monday.
The tornadoes hit five houses, destroying three of them, officials said.
In central parts of Oklahoma, tornado warning sirens sounded in Oklahoma City and surrounding communities about 5:20 a.m. Monday. The sirens sent people scurrying toward storm shelters and closets but no injuries or damage were reported from high winds and hail.
In Piedmont, lightning hit a house at 1911 Washington Ave. NE about 5:15 a.m., Fire Chief Rick Lofgren said.
A family of four people in the house escaped injury.
Family members had just covered a sport-utility vehicle with a tarp to protect it from hail damage and rushed back into the house when lightning struck.
The bolt caused $40,000 in damage and a small fire that was controlled by Oklahoma City and Piedmont firefighters within 15 minutes, Lofgren said.
Elsewhere, no one was reported hurt during the tornadoes and storms that hit Grant County about 9 p.m. Sunday.
At least six tornadoes were spotted in the air near Wakita - where the movie "Twister" was filmed three years ago. Hail and strong winds were reported in Medford as the storm moved southeast.
In the Medford area, a tornado damaged barns and other outbuildings west of town, but no injuries were reported, a Grant County sheriff's dispatcher said.
Electrical power was knocked out after the storm damaged power lines.
The scene was similar in Woods and Alfalfa counties, sheriff's offices reported. Strong straight winds overturned and destroyed a mobile home in Alva , a jailer said. No one was in the trailer at the time.
The storms also produced hail, heavy rain and high wind that did varying amounts of damage to wheat fields in northern Oklahoma, only days from harvest.
The brunt of the storm hit the Lamont area about 30 miles southeast of Wakita. Residents of the town and the surrounding area huddled at the Lamont school.
A brick house was shredded. A dairy building was flattened. Trucks and tractors were tossed around like toys.
"Everything that was in its direct path, it picked up and took," said Kyle Kirby, who lives about a mile southwest of Lamont. "My grain bin - it took it. I don't know where it's at. It's just plumb gone. My feed mill - I'm talking about something that's 30 feet high and probably 50 feet in diameter - it just took it."
Debris that wasn't swept away was dropped into nearby wheat fields. Most of the wheat in the area was knocked down by wind or shredded by debris. Baseball-size hail near Medford also pulverized some wheat fields.
Lamont was busy Monday as cleanup crews and neighbors swept into the area.
"There were trees stacked probably 15 feet deep right in the middle of the road," said Doug Hern, a county road foreman.
Behind the road workers came crews from OG&E Electric Services to replace power poles snapped by tornadoes. Crews were called in from Oklahoma City, Muskogee and Sapulpa.
More than 70 large power poles were ripped down in a three-mile stretch along a county road. OG&E crews worked until 10 p.m. Monday trying to restore power.
The tornadoes hit quickly. Stanley Schuelein said he didn't have time to run to a storm shelter outside his brick house about two miles southeast of Lamont.
"When we heard the glass start breaking, we knew it was too late," he said.
Schuelein said his family ran to the shower.
"Everything trembled," he said. "You could hear the glass breaking and things hitting the roof.
"It lasted a long time. We commented that tornadoes aren't just supposed to last this long. I think we had three shots. It kind of quit, and then it came on and things were crashing and glass would break. And then it got quiet again and then it came again."
The onslaught lasted about 15 minutes.
Schuelein said one thought kept going through his mind: "Dear Lord, take care of us. We're in your hands."
A 75-by-50-foot barn across from his was blown away, he said. Another two barns and a garage also were destroyed. Trucks and tractors also were damaged heavily.
Kirby, who lives about a half-mile north of Schuelein, was riding a motorcycle on his way to work in Ponca City when the storms came. He drove back to Lamont and waited out the storm in Lamont's school.
"We heard the tornado come over us," Kirby said. "We could hear it hollering."
Kirby's house was damaged but his dairy, machine shop, a grain bin, a hay barn with about 60 bales of hay inside and a feeder were destroyed.
"The house is the only thing salvageable other than one grain bin," Kirby said.
Some buildings were blown away. Others were reduced to rubble.
A piece of tin went through a screen door and then broke the latch of the front door and flew into Kirby's house. Tractors and trucks were rolled over.
Janice Wilkerson and her husband, Tommy, did not wait for the storm. When they saw weather reports showing tornadoes in the area, they left their brick, three-bedroom, one story house about two miles west of Lamont and headed for the Lamont school.
About 15 minutes later, the tornado hit. They returned two hours later to find only the center part of their house remaining.
The tornado destroyed a barn behind the house, killing about 30 sheep.
Many of the items for a daughter's wedding also were blown away. Janice Wilkerson's daughter, Tiffany, is getting married Saturday.
"We'll get the wedding out of the way, and then we'll decide what to do about the house," Wilkerson said.
Power was out in Waynoka, Alva, Cherokee and Medford areas for a time after the storm moved through. Uprooted trees, downed power lines and damaged or destroyed barns and sheds dotted the storm's path.
Dean Goll, who lives southeast of Alva , estimated some of his wheat suffered 30 percent to 40 percent hail damage.
Winds caused other problems, snapping some trees and taking the roof off a cattle shed, he said.
Still, things could have been more bleak, he said.
"If we had small hail really heavy for quite a while, along with 60 mile per hour winds, it could have riddled it," Goll said. "But for the most part, the wheat looks pretty good in my area."
Farmers in five northern counties told The Oklahoman on Monday that high winds from the night before had knocked the greenish-gold wheat over, but they were optimistic it would "stand back up."
Many considered themselves fortunate when they discovered little extensive damage.
Dale Sharkey, who farms in Grant and Garfield counties, wasn't as lucky. His wheat hit hardest by hail was just northeast of Hillsdale in Garfield County.
"I have a whole half-section that makes you sick to look at it," he said.
"It knocked the grain out of some heads and stripped the beards off the heads of some. On others, it broke it over."
He said most of his fields received at least some damage.
Prior to the storms, Sharkey expected a good crop.
"Now, when it's ripe, we'll stick a combine in there and see how much we get," he said.
Although harvest has begun in areas of southern Oklahoma, several producers in northern Oklahoma have predicted it won't begin there until about the second week of June, depending on the weather.
The state forecast calls for a chance of thunderstorms through Wednesday night.
Staff writers Bryan Painter and Robert Medley, State correspondent J.B. Blosser Bittner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.Archive ID: 723874