Tornado levels homes in Oklahoma
Monday, May 20, 2013
EDMOND, Okla. (AP) — One of several tornadoes spawned by a powerful storm system rumbling through the Plains and Midwest has leveled several mobile homes in an area southeast of Oklahoma City.
Reports of injuries in the mobile home park near Shawnee about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City couldn’t immediately be confirmed.
A storm spotter has told the National Weather Service that the tornado “scoured” the landscape in the park and an area along Interstate 40.
The highway has been closed because of overturned tractor-trailers that now litter the road. Television footage showed the twister approaching an area near the Shawnee Reservoir.
For days, forecasters had been warning about the possibility of tornadoes from a weekend storm, and emergency responders as far north as Minnesota and as far south as Texas were keeping a close eye on the powerful system pushing eastward and northward through the nation’s breadbasket.
“I knew it was coming,” said Randy Grau, who huddled with his wife and two young boys in their Edmond’s home’s safe room when the tornado hit. He said he peered out his window as the weather worsened and believed he saw a flock of birds heading down the street.
“Then I realized it was swirling debris. That’s when we shut the door of the safe room, said Grau, adding that they sheltered in the room for 10 minutes.
In Wichita, Kan., a tornado touched down near Mid-Content Airport on the city’s southwest side shortly before 4 p.m., knocking out power to 7,500 homes and businesses but bypassing the most populated areas of Kansas’ biggest city.
“At this point, there are very few reports of damage and no reports of fatalities or injuries, and we’re very grateful for that,” said Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan.
In Oklahoma, aerial television news footage showed homes that appeared to have suffered significant damage northeast of Oklahoma City. Some outbuildings appeared to have been leveled, and some homes’ roofs or walls had been knocked down.
“When I first drove into the neighborhood, I didn’t see any major damage until I pulled into the front of my house,” said Csabe Mathe, of Edmond, who found a part of his neighbor’s fence in his swimming pool. “My reaction was: I hope insurance pays for the cleaning.”
“I typically have two trash cans, and now I have five in my driveway.”
The Storm Prediction Center had been warning about severe weather in the region since Wednesday, and on Friday, it zeroed in on Sunday as the day the storm system would likely pass through.
“They’ve been calling for this all day,” Edmond resident Anita Wright said after riding out the twister in an underground shelter. She and her husband Ed emerged from their hiding place to find uprooted trees, downed limbs and damaged gutters in their home.
In Katie Leathers’ backyard, the family’s trampoline was tossed through a section of fence and a giant tree uprooted.
“I saw all the trees waving, and that’s when I grabbed everyone and got into two closets,” Leathers said. “All these trees just snapped.”
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