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.
Several tornadoes struck parts of the nation’s midsection Sunday, concentrating damage in central Oklahoma and Wichita, Kan. Two people were killed near Shawnee, Okla., and at least 39 people throughout the state were injured, according to the state’s emergency management director, Albert Ashwood.
The National Weather Service was forecasting more of the same for the area — including Oklahoma City and Tulsa — Monday afternoon and evening, warning of the possibility of tornadoes and baseball-sized hail.
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.”
Carter heard on the radio that a storm that originated southwest of Oklahoma City was headed toward Shawnee.