Sunday, April 30, 2017

Heavy rains and severe storms caused damage and forced water rescues throughout the state of Oklahoma

Storm damage reported across Oklahoma, water rescues performed

7:55 PM, Apr 29, 2017

Heavy rains and severe storms caused damage and forced water rescues throughout the state on Saturday.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management provided the latest information on damage and rescues:

Adair County Emergency Management reports significant flooding. They have conducted one water rescue today and have issued evacuations for 6-8 people. They have opened a shelter at the Chewey Community Center in Chewey Oklahoma.

Caddo County Emergency Management reports one mobile home destroyed, three homes damaged and numerous barns damaged. One airplane was destroyed. Three people were treated and released for storm-related injuries.

Cherokee County Emergency Management reports widespread flooding in Cherokee County, with 14 water rescues since 11 a.m. today. A mobile home park in north Tahlequah has been evacuated.

Kingfisher County Emergency Management reports wind damage east and west of Highway 81, including structure damage. Damage includes trees down, broken windows, and roof damage. One travel trailer was overturned due to high wind.

Leflore County Emergency Management reports damage west of the town of Cameron due to storms Friday night. Baseball sized hail, power line damage and damage to one mobile home was reported.

Ottawa County Emergency Management reports one large barn damaged, several additional structures destroyed and numerous trees and power lines are down.

Rogers County Emergency Management reports several trees have fallen onto homes in Sequoyah Hills causing roof damage.

Shelters have been established in Muskogee, Tahlequah and Oklahoma City for residents displaced by storms.

-First Baptist Church, 110 S. 8th Street, Muskogee

-Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, 2717 W. Hefner Road, Oklahoma City

-First Baptist Church, 201 Commerce Road, Tahlequah


OKLAHOMA CITY - High wind gusts during Saturday morning thunderstorms snapped utility poles and tree branches, sheared shingles off roofs and toppled the 70-foot Centennial Arch at State Fair Park.

Oklahoma City spokeswoman Kristy Yager said storms caused damage across the city, with the most serious problems being downed trees and power lines blocking streets. She said homes and businesses were damaged, too.

More than 17,000 people still were without electricity as of 5:50 p.m. Saturday, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. reported. Earlier in the day, more than 40,000 customers were without power in the metro area.

Damage was particularly noticeable at the fair park, where the arch had been crumpled from strong winds and trailers were overturned in parking lots.

Scott Munz, vice president of marketing and public relations for the fair park, said crews had reported “a lot of damage,” adding that there had been trees and fences damaged in the storms. He said a cellphone tower and a light pole had also been knocked down.

“It's all hands on deck. We're assessing and moving trees out of the road so we can be somewhat functional,” he said.

As of 4 p.m., the fair park was without power, postponing the Better Barrel Races World Finals. More than 2,000 horses and their owners are at the fair park for the event.

A gaming convention at fair park was canceled Saturday, but officials said it would be open Sunday. The Just Between Friends consignment sale also was canceled Saturday and is rescheduled for May 6.

Despite the damage, Munz said there were no reported injuries to people or animals.

In Norman, the popular Othello's Italian Restaurant on Campus Corner was badly damaged by a fire reportedly sparked by a lightning strike. Norman firefighters responded to the area just after 6 a.m. where the roof of the building was burning.

Fire crews were able to limit the fire to the attic area but said there was water damage throughout the building. The restaurant reported that nobody was inside at the time of the fire and there were no injuries.

Festival of the Arts and Memorial Marathon unfazed

While several events across the metro were canceled after the storms, two major events in downtown Oklahoma City will continue as scheduled.

Lindsey Pendleton, communications director for the Festival of the Arts, said there were no major issues from the storms other than loss of power and that the festival was open on Saturday and would be open again for its final day Sunday.

Officials for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon said there were a few areas to clean up after the storms, but the marathon would continue as planned Sunday.

"We're all systems go," Race Director Kari Watkins said.

Nearly 26,000 people are expected to run in the marathon.

Early morning problems

The eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 40, just east of Interstate 44, were closed at 5:30 a.m. because of a downed power line in the area and didn't reopen until just before 5 p.m., the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.

Interstate 235, between N 36 and N 50, also was closed for several hours Saturday because of flooding.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department responded to dozens of storm-related calls throughout the morning, including a number of homes hit by lightning strikes, a person trapped in a recreational vehicle and a large number of downed power lines across the city.

Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson said fire crews were also called out to the 4600 block of N Pennsylvania Avenue after lightning caught an apartment complex on fire about 7 a.m. One person was treated for injuries at the scene and released. No other injuries were reported.

Fulkerson said firefighters responded to a high volume of incidents, but said most were minor.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections reported power outages at several facilities in the Oklahoma City metro and damage to one halfway house's roof. No inmates or staff were injured, and facilities were using generators until power lines could be repaired.

Forrest Mitchell, forecaster for the National Weather Service, said the storm that brought damaging wind gusts entered central Oklahoma about 5:30 a.m. Gusts up to 60 mph were recorded at Will Rogers World Airport, up to 70 mph reported in Calumet and 80 mph gusts reported in Mustang.

Mitchell said there was no tornadic activity, adding that the damage was from straight-line winds. He said the storm system was expected to leave the state by Sunday afternoon.

Other areas affected

Much of central and eastern Oklahoma remained under a flash flood watch as storms continued tracking through the state Saturday. The watch was set to expire in Oklahoma City at 7 a.m. on Sunday.

Parts of Oklahoma and Logan counties had seen more than 3 inches of rain as of 5:50 p.m. Saturday. More than 4.8 inches of rain had fallen in Weatherford and more than 6.3 inches of rain had fallen in Tahlequah, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet weather network.

Several inches of snow were reported in the Oklahoma Panhandle, where temperatures hovered just below freezing Saturday morning.

Other parts of the state had significant damage from the storms.

Caddo County emergency management officials reported that one mobile home was destroyed from the storms and three homes and a number of barns were damaged. Three people were treated for injuries suffered in the storms.

Cherokee County officials reported widespread flooding, saying there had been 14 water rescues since 11 a.m. Saturday. Adair County officials said there was one water rescue and a number of people were evacuated from their homes because of the flooding.

Officials in LeFlore, Ottawa and Rogers counties reported damage from the storms that started Friday.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Saturday issued a state of emergency for all 77 counties in the state. The order, in force for 30 days, will allow state agencies to make emergency purchases related to disaster relief and preparedness and is the first step toward seeking federal aid if necessary.

Keli Cain, with the state's Emergency Management Department, said the Red Cross has opened three shelters for displaced residents displaced by storms:

•Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, 2717 W Hefner Road, Oklahoma City.

•First Baptist Church, 110 S Eighth Street, Muskogee.

•First Baptist Church, 201 Commerce Road, Tahlequah.