Officials to Assess Damage After Tornadoes Hit Oklahoma Again
(OKLAHOMA CITY) — Oklahoma officials this morning will be surveying the damage left by several twisters and violent weather that swept through the area Friday night — leaving at least nine people dead, flipping trucks on interstate highways during rush hour and miring cars in deep floods.
“We haven’t had a chance yet for our team to take a look at the damage out there because the flood waters are still keeping us out of the area,” Keli Cain, the public information officer for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management told ABC News.
The National Weather Service initially estimated that five tornadoes touched down in the Oklahoma City area Friday.
Friday’s severe weather was blamed for at least nine deaths, including two children and seven adults, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Saturday morning.
Among them were a mother and her baby possibly sucked out of their cars near Interstate 40, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph told ABC News.
“We know that the storm picked them up and swept them away,” Randolph said. “When the troopers found them, they were both deceased.
“We know that a mother and a child were killed tonight on I-40 in Canadian County,” Randolph said. “I cannot stress to you just how important it is that if people don’t have to be out, that they stay inside and seek shelter. … There’s just no safe place to be except underground when a tornado is present.”
The latest storms hit 11 days after a massive E-5 tornado jolted Moore, Okla., on May 20, killing 24 people, smashing hospitals and schools, and flattening neighborhoods.
Randolph said the area roads were extremely congested, particularly I-40 and I-35.
“Several spots are impassable whether it’s high water or power lines that are down,” she said. “We’ve had multiple crashes, some of which are probably going to be there for a while as we’re unable to get wreckers to clear the roadway.”
She added that troopers were being told to push vehicles off I-40 to clear the roadway.
Local hospitals reported receiving at least 89 patients, four critical, with three fatalities among them.
Integris Health Southwest, which has three hospitals in the area, reported most of the patients, including two dead — the mother and baby from I-40. One of its hospitals also had a baby in critical condition.
Mercy Hospital in El Reno, Okla., reported receiving 13 patients, one dead on arrival and two in critical condition.
Oklahoma University Medical Center, the only level one trauma center in the state, reported two adult patients whose conditions were unclear. OU also runs The Children’s Hospital, where there were six pediatric patients, two transferred from Integris.
The National Weather Service had issued a tornado emergency earlier for the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including Moore, which is south of the Oklahoma City, amid the massive storm.
Gov. Mary Fallin told ABC News on Friday evening that there were power outages, flooding and flipped trucks on interstates amid apparent tornados.
“We’re real concerned about the people that are on the highways,” Fallin said, noting the worst of the storm hit during the evening rush hour.
“It hit during a time when people were getting off work,” Fallin said. “They knew the storms where coming in, so people were going home.”
“We’re seeing, right now, a lot of flooding,” Cain said Friday. “That is a big issue. We’re seeing a lot of power issues. … It’s still difficult to assess what damage is out there. We may not have information about that until [Saturday].”
ABC News affiliate KOCO reported that an apparent tornado had touched down near El Reno, Okla., and moved east toward Oklahoma City.
“It’s really bad and lightning and all the roads are flooded,” said Addie Pendarvis, who works at a Sonic drive-in diner in El Reno. “It was hailing really bad earlier, too.”
Moore City Manager Steve Eddy, drove around Moore after the latest storm, and told ABC News Friday evening that he saw minor flooding and power outages, but no immediate evidence of tornado activity.
There are about 125,000 power outages reported statewide with 95,618 in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area alone.
Oklahoma City Police Emergency Management said late Friday it was helping motorists stranded by widespread flooding.
Flash flooding remains the biggest weather threat Saturday as the National Weather Service issued flash flooding warnings for central and eastern Oklahoma.
Early morning flights at Will Rogers airport in Oklahoma City have delayed but officials expect to resume service later Saturday.
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