|Published:||May 11, 2010 11:03 AM EDT|
|Updated:||May 11, 2010 11:03 AM EDT|
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Violent storms that tore through the
southern Plains killed five people and injured dozens more, leaving
behind flattened homes, toppled semitrailers and downed power
Several tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma and Kansas on Monday
as the storms moved through the area, dumping hail as big as
baseballs and leaving tens of thousands of people without power.
"The kids and I got in the closet and prayed," said Jamie
Keyes, of Norman, an Oklahoma City suburb that is home to the
University of Oklahoma. "I heard a hiss. It was like something was
whistling very loud."
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokesman Jerry
Lojka said two people were killed in Oklahoma City and three were
killed in Cleveland County, south of the city. Oklahoma City
officials said the fatalities there involved a young boy who was
hit by debris in his home and a man whose recreational vehicle
flipped over on top of him. Details on the Cleveland County deaths
weren't immediately available.
Officials reported that at least 58 others were injured - two of
them critically - in a tornado outbreak that forecasters had been
predicting since last week.
In Norman - Cleveland County's largest city with about 106,000
residents - Tim Tegeler checked out the damage to his windows, air
conditioner and fence at his home. Tegeler, his wife, their
daughters and their pet fish had taken shelter in their laundry
room until the storms passed.
"We saw it coming, but the best thing is my family's fine,"
Neighbor Linda Sugg was picking up debris in her front yard.
"You could just hear stuff hitting the house," said Sugg, who
was in her home during the storms.
Near Seminole, about 60 miles east of Oklahoma City, at least
two homes were leveled after a tornado went through, Emergency
Management Director Ernie Willis said. The town's airport suffered
extensive damage and several planes there were destroyed, he said.
East of Oklahoma City, widespread destruction led authorities to
shut down Interstate 40, a major east-west route.
Interstate 35, which runs from Mexico to Minnesota, also was
closed briefly at the Kansas-Oklahoma border because overturned
tractor-trailers blocked all lanes. At Moore, near Oklahoma City,
trucks were overturned in the median, but the road remained open.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said more than
65,000 homes and businesses were without power.
In Kansas, the most serious damage was reported in Belmont.
Several homes were hit in the town east of Topeka and there were
widespread power outages. But no injuries were reported.
Oklahoma City and its suburbs saw three storms develop Monday
afternoon just to the west and each caused damage as they moved
across an area home to 1.2 million people. The northern storm
caused property damage near Edmond; two storms to the south turned
"We've had a very strange event: multiple tornadic portions
with this event as it came through," said David Barnes, the
emergency management director for Oklahoma County. "We have
multiple vehicles overturned, a housing addition has had multiple
In Alfalfa County, Sheriff Charlie Tucker said baseball-sized
hail broke the windshields of numerous cars and damaged homes.
"I came home once to look at my own personal vehicle and the
windshield was all bashed out. The grandchildren's swing set was up
and now it's gone, so there was straight-line winds that came
through," Tucker said.
The Storm Prediction Center at Norman had predicted tornadoes,
saying the atmosphere had the right mix of winds, heat and
moisture. One twister touched down just east of the center's
building on the University of Oklahoma campus.
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