Mon. May 27th, 2024

4 dead after tornadoes sweep through Oklahoma

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May13,2024

SULPHUR, Okla. (AP) — Tornadoes killed at least four people in Oklahoma and left thousands without power Sunday after a destructive outbreak of severe weather flattened buildings in the heart of one rural town and injured at least 100 people across the state.

More than 20,000 people remained without electricity after tornadoes began late Saturday night. The destruction was extensive in Sulphur, a town of about 5,000 people, where a tornado crumpled many downtown buildings, tossed cars and buses and sheared the roofs off houses across a 15-block radius.

“You just can’t believe the destruction,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said during a visit to the hard-hit town. “It seems like every business downtown has been destroyed.”

Stitt said about 30 people were injured alone in Sulphur, including some who were in a bar as the tornado struck. Hospitals across the state reported about 100 injuries, including people apparently cut or struck by debris or hurt from falls, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

At least 17 tornadoes reportedly touched down in the state on Saturday, Nexstar’s KFOR reported. That number could rise as the National Weather Service surveys the damaged area and works to confirm what caused the damage.

Deadly and damaging tornadoes rip through Oklahoma

Authorities said the tornado in Sulphur began in a city park before tearing through the downtown, flipping cars and ripping the roofs and walls off brick buildings. Windows and doors were blown out of structures that remained standing.

“How do you rebuild it? This is complete devastation,” said Kelly Trussell, a lifelong Sulphur resident as she surveyed the damage. “It is crazy, you want to help but where do you start?”

Carolyn Goodman traveled to Sulphur from the nearby town of Ada in search of her former sister-in-law, who Goodman said was at a local bar before just before the tornado hit the area.

Stitt also said one of the victims was found inside a Sulphur bar, but authorities had not yet identified those killed.

“The bar was destroyed,” Goodman said. “I know they probably won’t find her alive … but I hope she is still alive.”

Iowa residents describe tornado experiences, rallying together despite destruction

Clean up was underway in downtown Sulphur on Sunday afternoon as a light rain began to fall over the devastated city center. A car lay overturned near the debris and several heavily damaged vehicles were strewn nearby.

Farther north, a tornado near the small town of Holdenville killed two people and damaged more than a dozen homes, according to the Hughes County Emergency Medical Service. 

Another person was killed along Interstate 35 near the southern Oklahoma city of Marietta, according to the state’s Department of Emergency Management. A hospital was damaged in the town and authorities closed an interstate at the state line with Texas due to overturned vehicles and downed power lines.

Elsewhere, authorities said first responders conducted three swift water rescues in Pittsburg County because of high water that closed some local roads. Stretches of state highways were closed in that and other counties because of flooding, debris or the need to allow emergency crews to search and assess the damage, officials said.

Tornado tears through Nebraska, causing severe damage in Omaha suburbs

Stitt issued an executive order Sunday declaring a state of emergency in 12 counties due to the fallout from the severe weather as crews worked to clear debris and assess damage from the severe storms that downed power lines

Nearly 30,000 customers were without power in Oklahoma as of midday Sunday, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks electric utility outages. In Texas, nearly 52,000 customers were without power.

At the Sulphur High School gym, families took cover from the storm late Saturday as tornadoes ravaged the area. Jackalyn Wright said she and her family sheltered at the school’s gym and heard what sounded like a helicopter as the tornado touched down over them.

Chad Smith, 43, said people ran into the gym as the wind picked up, the rain started coming faster and the doors slammed shut. “Just give me a beer and a lawn chair and I will sit outside and watch it,” Smith said. Instead, he took cover.

The deadly weather in Oklahoma added to the dozens of reported tornadoes that wreaked havoc in the nation’s midsection since Friday. On Sunday, authorities in Iowa said a man injured during a tornado that hit the town of Minden on Friday had died, according to local reports.

A tornado in suburban Omaha, Nebraska, demolished homes and businesses Saturday as it moved for miles through farmland and into subdivisions, then slammed an Iowa town.

Photos: Storms cause damage in Nebraska, Iowa

A partially torn off roof is seen on a damaged home in Omaha, Neb., on Saturday, April 27, 2024. Dozens of reported tornadoes wreaked havoc Friday in the Midwest. (Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald via AP)Damaged homes are seen after a tornado hit the Newport Landing neighborhood in Bennington, Neb., Saturday, April 27, 2024. Dozens of reported tornadoes wreaked havoc Friday in the Midwest. (Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald via AP)Damage is seen to a neighborhood after a tornado moved through the area in Minden, Iowa, Saturday, April 27, 2024. The Friday night tornadoes wreaked havoc in the Midwest, causing a building to collapse with dozens of people inside and destroying and damaging hundreds of homes. (AP Photo/Nick Ingram)Tory Crozier, 30, cleans up the damage to her family’s property near Minden, Iowa on Saturday, April 27, 2024, after a tornado the previous evening. (Anna Reed/Omaha World-Herald via AP)Friends, family and coworkers help clean up the damage, including a destroyed RV, on Jared and Tory Crozier’s property near Minden, Iowa on Saturday, April 27, 2024, after a tornado the previous evening. (Anna Reed/Omaha World-Herald via AP)Terry Kicking sifts through the damage after a tornado leveled his home, Friday, April 26, 2024, in Omaha, Neb. (Nikos Frazier/Omaha World-Herald via AP)Damage is seen to home after it was leveled by a tornado near Omaha, Neb., on Friday, April 26, 2024. (Nikos Frazier/Omaha World-Herald via AP)

The tornado damage began Friday afternoon near Lincoln, Nebraska. An industrial building in Lancaster County was hit, causing it to collapse with 70 people inside. Several were trapped, but everyone was evacuated, and the three injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said.

One or possibly two tornadoes then spent around an hour creeping toward Omaha, leaving behind damage consistent with an EF3 twister, with winds of 135 to 165 mph, said Chris Franks, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Omaha office.

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds spent Saturday touring the damage and arranging for assistance for the damaged communities. Formal damage assessments are still underway, but the states plan to seek federal help.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “4 dead after tornadoes sweep through Oklahoma”
  1. It’s truly heartbreaking to see the devastation caused by the tornadoes in Oklahoma. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and those who have lost their homes. Let’s come together to support the affected communities during this difficult time.

  2. I’m heartbroken to hear about the devastation caused by the tornadoes in Oklahoma. My thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones and the community facing such destruction. It’s a reminder of how powerful and unpredictable nature can be.

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