Oklahoma Communities Grapple with Devastation as Cleanup Begins Following Deadly Weekend Tornadoes Claiming 4 Lives

Oklahoma Communities Grapple with Devastation as Cleanup Begins Following Deadly Weekend Tornadoes Claiming 4 Lives

SULPHUR, Okla. — On Monday, small towns in Oklahoma started a long process of cleaning up after tornadoes destroyed houses and buildings and killed four people, one of whom was an infant. The damage was spread across the middle of the U.S.

Oklahoma’s severe storms started late Saturday night and hurt at least 100 people. They damaged a rural hospital, washed out roads, and at one point cut power to more than 40,000 people. In Iowa and Nebraska on Friday, tornadoes also did a lot of damage and killed one person.

A tornado tore off the roofs of homes along a 15-block radius in Sulphur, a town of about 5,000 people south of Oklahoma City. It destroyed many city buildings and threw cars and buses around.

“You just can’t believe the damage,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said when he went to the town that was hit hard. “It looks like every business in downtown has been destroyed.”

Stitt said that about 30 people were hurt in Sulphur. Some of them were in a bar when the storm hit. According to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, about 100 people were hurt across the state. These injuries included people who were cut or hit by debris. Hughes County Emergency Management Director Mike Dockrey told Oklahoma TV station KOCO that one of the people who died was a baby.

Officials at the White House said that President Joe Biden talked to Stitt on Sunday and told him that the federal government would back him up completely.

The deadly weather in Oklahoma was on top of the dozens of tornadoes that have been reported across the middle of the country since Friday. Sunday, there was news of another death in Iowa. In Pottawattamie County, a man who was seriously hurt in a tornado on Friday had died.

In Oklahoma, the tornado in Sulphur started in a city park and then ripped through the downtown area, flipping cars over and ripping the roofs and walls off of brick buildings. Buildings that were still standing had their windows and doors blown out.

“How do you put it back together?” “This is complete destruction,” Kelly Trussell, who has lived in Sulphur her whole life, said as she looked at the damage. “It’s crazy; you want to help but don’t know how.”

Carolyn Goodman went from the nearby town of Ada to Sulphur to find her ex-sister-in-law, who she said was at a bar in the area right before the storm hit. Police have not yet named the people who were killed, but Stitt said that one of the bodies was found in a bar.

As Goodman put it, “the bar was destroyed.” It’s likely that they won’t find her alive, but I hope she is still living.

Two people were killed by a tornado near the town of Holdenville further north, and the Hughes County Emergency Medical Service says that more than a dozen houses were damaged or destroyed. State police say that someone else was killed on Interstate 35 near the city of Marietta in southern Oklahoma.

Along with the storms, the heavy rains that hit Oklahoma also caused dangerous flooding and were used to save people from the water. When the lake level rose outside of Sulphur, it closed off the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Storms also destroyed a walking bridge there.

Stitt declared a state of emergency in 12 counties on Sunday through an executive order because of the effects of the bad weather.

The tornado hit over Jackalyn Wright and her family as they took cover in the Sulphur High School gym from the storm. Wright said they heard what sounded like a chopper.

Chad Smith, 43, said that when the wind picked up, people ran into the gym. As the rain picked up speed, the doors slammed shut. Smith said, “Give me a beer and a lawn chair, and I’ll watch it outside.” He instead hid.

People in other states were also cleaning up after the storm. On Saturday, a tornado in the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska, destroyed homes and businesses as it moved through farmland and neighborhoods for miles. It then hit a town in Iowa.

The damage from the tornado began near Lincoln, Nebraska, on Friday afternoon. In Lancaster County, an industrial building was hit, causing it to fall down with 70 people inside. Authorities said that the three injuries were not life-threatening and that several people were stuck but that everyone was let out.

Then, one or two tornadoes moved slowly toward Omaha for about an hour, doing damage typical of an EF3 tornado with winds of 135 to 165 mph (217 to 265 kph), according to Chris Franks, a meteorologist in the Omaha office of the National Weather Service.

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds spent Saturday looking at the damage and making plans for how to help the towns that were hit. Formal evaluations of the damage are still being done, but the states plan to ask the federal government for help.

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