The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Nation & World

May 20, 2013

Oklahoma, other tornado-hit states brace for more

SHAWNEE, Okla. —  When Lindsay Carter heard on the radio that a violent storm was approaching her rural Oklahoma neighborhood, she gathered her belongings and fled. When she returned, there was little left.

Sunday's tornado that tore part of the roof from Carter's frame house — one of few such homes in the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park near Shawnee — laid waste to many of her neighbors' places, and killed two people and injured several others.

"Trees were all gone. I walked further down and all those houses were gone," she said of her return home to the neighborhood.

The tornado was one of several that touched down Sunday in the nation's midsection, concentrating damage in central Oklahoma and Wichita, Kan. Two people were killed in or near the mobile home park, which is outside of Shawnee, a community about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. At least 39 people throughout Oklahoma were injured, according to the state's emergency management director, Albert Ashwood.

The National Weather Service was forecasting more of the same for the region — including Oklahoma City and Tulsa — Monday afternoon and evening, warning of the possibility of tornadoes and baseball-sized hail. Residents of Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri were also warned to watch for bad weather Monday.

Gov. Mary Fallin began touring the hardest-hit areas early Monday, including Carney, in Lincoln County, and a mobile home park near Shawnee, 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, that suffered a direct hit and was where the two confirmed deaths happened.

"It took a dead hit," resident James Hoke said of the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park. Emerging from a storm cellar where he sought refuge with his wife and two children, Hoke found that their mobile home had vanished. "Everything is gone."

Hoke said he started trying to help neighbors and found his wife's father covered in rubble.

"My father-in-law was buried under the house. We had to pull Sheetrock off of him," Hoke said.

Forecasters had been warning of bad weather since Wednesday and on Sunday said conditions had ripened for powerful tornadoes. Wall-to-wall broadcasts of storm information spread the word Sunday, leaving Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth grateful.

"There was a possibility a lot more people could have been injured," Booth said. "This is the worst I've seen in Pottawatomie County in my 25 years of law enforcement."

Booth said a 79-year-old man, who was later identified as Glen Irish, was found dead out in the open at Steelman Estates. The state medical examiner's office said Monday that a 76-year-old man, Billy Hutchinson, was found dead in a vehicle. The office said both men lived in Shawnee, but the city wasn't hit by the tornado and it wasn't immediately clear if either or both lived in the mobile home park, which is near the city.

"You can see where there's absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up," Booth said. "It looks like there's been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour.

"It's pretty bad. It's pretty much wiped out," he said.

Tornadoes were reported Sunday in Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma as part of a storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.

Emergency officials traversed the neighborhoods struck in Oklahoma in an effort to account for everyone. Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said that, many times in such situations, people who are not found immediately are discovered later to have left the area ahead of the storm.

A storm spotter told the National Weather Service that the tornado left the earth "scoured" at the mobile home park. At the nearby intersection of Interstate 40 and U.S. 177, a half-dozen tractor-trailers were blown over, closing both highways for a time.

"It seemed like it went on forever. It was a big rumbling for a long time," said Shawn Savory, standing outside his damaged remodeling business in Shawnee. "It was close enough that you could feel like you could reach out and touch it."

Fallin declared an emergency for 16 Oklahoma counties because of the severe storms and flooding. The declaration lets local governments acquire goods quickly to respond to their residents' needs and puts the state in line for federal help if it becomes necessary.

Heavy rains and straight-line winds hit much of western Oklahoma on Saturday. Tornadoes were also reported Sunday at Edmond, Arcadia and near Wellston to the north and northeast of Oklahoma City. The supercell that generated the twisters weakened as it approached Tulsa, 90 miles to the northeast.

In Wichita, Kan., a tornado touched down near Mid-Continent Airport on the city's southwest side shortly before 4 p.m., knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses but bypassing the most populated areas of Kansas' biggest city. The Wichita tornado was an EF1 — the strength of tornado on the enhanced Fujita scale — with winds of 110 mph, according to the weather service.

Golf ball-sized hail slammed homes in the area. Jim Raulston, of Wichita, said the ferocious winds slammed the hailstones into his home.

"It was just unbelievable how the hail and everything was just coming straight sideways," Raulston said.

Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan said there were no reports of fatalities or injuries in Kansas.

The weather service reported two tornadoes touched down in Iowa — near Huxley and Earlham. Damage included the loss of some cattle when the storm blew over a barn on a farm in Mitchell County. Some 6,000 customers were without power Monday, including in the hardest-hit areas where the tornado sirens were also rendered silent. In the event of new impending strikes, first responders planned to use their emergency vehicles' sirens to warn residents.

 

1
Text Only
Nation & World
  • Social Security spent $300 million on 'IT boondoggle'

    Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. Nearly $300 million later, the new system is nowhere near ready and agency officials are struggling to salvage a project racked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency.

    July 24, 2014

  • Plane crashes in Taiwan, 47 trapped, feared dead

    A plane landing in stormy weather crashed outside an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, and a transport minister said 47 people were trapped and feared dead.

    July 23, 2014

  • US pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

     Israeli troops battled Hamas militants on Wednesday near a southern Gaza Strip town as the U.S. secretary of state reported progress in efforts to broker a truce in the conflict that has so far killed at least 657 Palestinians and 31 Israelis.

    July 23, 2014

  • Bodies of Malaysia jet victims leave Ukraine

    Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash left the embattled plains of eastern Ukraine Wednesday, and pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets as fighting flared in the region.

    July 23, 2014

  • Perdue defeats Kingston in Georgia Senate runoff

    Businessman David Perdue has defeated longtime Rep. Jack Kingston in the Republican runoff for Georgia's U.S. Senate nomination, setting up a nationally significant general election matchup against Democrat Michelle Nunn.

    July 22, 2014

  • New arrest linked to gun used after Boston attacks

    A friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is believed to have provided the handgun used to kill a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer during the manhunt, people with knowledge of the investigation said Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

    A Central California company is recalling specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots sold nationwide over concerns of possible listeria contamination.

    July 22, 2014

  • Obama nominee McDonald pledges to 'transform' VA

    President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs pledged Tuesday to transform the beleaguered agency, saying that "systematic failures" must be addressed.

    July 22, 2014

  • Obamacare hit by ruling, but subsidies to continue

    President Barack Obama's health care law is enmeshed in another big legal battle after two federal appeals courts issued contradictory rulings on a key financing issue within hours of each other Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • US airlines scrap Israel flights over missile fear

    Two U.S. airlines cancelled all flights to Israel until further notice, after a rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport.

    July 22, 2014