Tornadoes ripped through central Oklahoma Sunday evening — leveling homes in or near Carney, Bethel Acres and Norman, overturning tractor-trailers on Interstate 40 near Shawnee and damaging roofs and trees in southeast Edmond.
The state medical examiner has released the name of two men killed by the Sunday tornado that hit Pottawatomie County.
The victims are Glen Irish, 79, and Billy Hutchinson, 76, both of Shawnee.
For a time, two people were missing from a mobile home park there, but they were later found safe, the sheriff said. Bulldozers were brought in Sunday night to help clear debris.
At least 21 injuries were reported by the state Health Department.
Five people injured in the storm were taken to Norman Regional Hospital, including three who were critically injured, hospital spokeswoman Kelly Wells said.
The Norman hospital received three male and two female victims, who range in age from 33 to 76 years old, Wells said.
Paramedics were continuing to search for victims late Sunday, she said.
Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for 16 counties, noting initial reports of damage in numerous communities including Bethel Acres, Carney, Edmond, Little Axe, Norman, Shawnee and Wellston.
Emergency management officials reported dozens of homes were destroyed. How many could not be determined amid the chaos that immediately followed the storms.
Booth said at least 30 to 35 homes were destroyed in Pottawatomie County and numerous other homes were damaged.
Norman Emergency Management officials said about 30 to 40 homes were destroyed or damaged in their jurisdiction.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported more than 23,000 power outages.
Four people were injured and taken to local hospitals with injuries after a tornado struck the I-40-U.S. 177 overpass just west of Shawnee — overturning three tractor-trailers and damaging four other vehicles.
Emergency personnel were working Sunday evening to extract two other people from vehicles — forcing closure of the interstate.
Truck driver David Bergquist said he hunkered down under the I-40 bridge near Shawnee as the tornado bore down on him.
“What they did on ‘Twister’ was pretty damn accurate,” he said of a movie that featured the awesome destructive power of a tornado.
“All I lost was a windshield.”
Two more injuries were reported near Norman where two people were trapped in a home that collapsed near 156th and Franklin Road, about 1 mile northeast of Thunderbird Lake.
‘Stuff can be rebuilt’
At Carney, numerous homes and other structures were destroyed or heavily damaged, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths, a Lincoln County emergency management dispatcher said.
About a mile south of Carney, Janee Keiser said she, her mother, her daughter and two granddaughters hid in a cellar while a tornado destroyed their home.
“It’s gone — all the buildings, all the cars,” Keiser said. “It took the garage, the barn, the shed — it took it all ... But we’re all fine and that’s the most important thing. The other stuff can be rebuilt.”
Marlena Hodson of 906 Neva St., in Carney, said her home also was destroyed, along with numerous homes along Hanmer Park.
“We had a house, a travel trailer, a Jeep, a Volkswagen car and dock on our pond. They all blew away,” she said. “But we are absolutely fabulous. Nobody got hurt and the freezer has still got ice cream.”
Less severe damage was reported in Edmond, where a tornado ripped the second story off the home of Cathy and Roland Dawson, 2500 Kensington Terrace, in the Thornbrooke Village addition near the northeast corner of Bryant Avenue and 33rd Street.
The Dawsons said they were hiding under the stairs in their home when the tornado hit at 4:21 p.m.
“I’m kind of shaky,” Cathy Dawson said. “We were hiding in a hidey hole. I had just gotten home five minutes before it hit.”
“I think we got the tail of it,” Roland Dawson said, speculating the house would have been gone if it had sustained a direct hit.
“It sounded like an earthquake,” said Steele Jones, another Thornbrooke Village resident.
The tornado knocked down a portion of a brick fence, damaged roofs and did extensive tree damage in the housing addition.
Edmond police said there were no reports of injuries in that city, but about a dozen homes sustained at least some damage. Several power lines were down east of Bryant between 15th and 33rd Streets.
The tornado traveled east from the Thornbrooke addition into the Old Farm addition, where it toppled huge trees along Old Farm Road, completely blocking the road at one point.
Mercy Health Edmond, a hospital facility under construction along Interstate 35, sustained roof damage and broken windows from Sunday’s tornado, but no one was on site when the tornado hit and there were no injuries there, said Rachel Wright, spokeswoman for the hospital.
The National Weather Service in Norman identified two major storm tracks that produced multiple tornadoes. One track began in southeast Edmond and traveled northeast through Carney in Lincoln County. The other began near Norman and traveled northeast to a point north of Shawnee.
The 16 counties included in Gov. Fallin’s emergency declaration are: Caddo, Cleveland, Comanche, Creek, Garfield, Grant, Greer, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Pawnee, Payne and Pottawatomie.
The declaration can be amended to add additional counties if conditions warrant, she said.
“Our hearts and prayers are with those Oklahomans who have been affected by today’s severe weather,” Fallin said.
“The state of emergency declaration will allow state agencies to help expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions to aid with the cleanup and recovery from today’s storm.”
Under Fallin’s executive order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.
The American Red Cross was working Sunday night to set up shelters in Carney, Shawnee and Little Axe, spokesman Ken Garcia said.
Volunteers were busy surveying the damage and driving trucks through neighborhoods to provide drinks, snacks and sports drinks.
Contributing: Staff Writers Matt Dinger, LEIGHANNE MANWARREN, Diana Baldwin, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Jaclyn Cosgrove, Juliana Keeping, Nolan Clay, Adam Kemp and Bryan Painter