Six people are dead in Oklahoma after flooding, severe storms and tornadoes impacted the state over several days.
A mobile home park in El Reno, about 29 miles west of Oklahoma City, was “devastated,” Mayor Matt White said.
“It’s a lot of devastation here, it’s leveled, it’s just devastated,” White said in a phone interview with CNN, referring to the powerful EF-3 tornado that hit the city. “It’s tore all to pieces, it was terrible.”
Two people were killed in El Reno and two people were killed in Mayes County, according to a tally Sunday from the state medical examiner’s office. A 53-year-old woman also died in Payne County and a 58-year-old man died in Stephens County, according to officials.
In El Reno, officials were going door to door to find victims and assess the damage after the tornado touched down in the city late Saturday. A search and rescue operation is still underway, White told reporters Sunday morning. El Reno has a population of about 19,000.
‘I heard it coming’
Rachel Garrison was in a mobile home when the storm hit, according to CNN affiliate KOCO.
“I heard it coming,” she told the station.
The next thing she felt, Garrison said, was another trailer flipping over onto the one her family was in.
“After everything was over with and all the shaking and jarring, the sirens went off,” Garrison told the station.
The park had 88 mobile homes, White said. “We’re looking at basically under 15, under 16 trailers were the ones involved in the tornado,” he said.
The mayor said the sirens went off at 10:27 p.m., and according to the information he had, the storm touched down four minutes later.
In addition to the mobile home park, a hotel was damaged, Fire Chief Kent Lagaly said.
All guests have been accounted for, the hotel’s owner, Ramesh Patel, said. One employee broke a leg and is being treated at a hospital, he said.
Nearly 100 injuries reported in Oklahoma
The tornado was rated EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, said on Twitter after completing its survey of the damage in El Reno. The twister lasted only 4 minutes, the service said.
Only about 5% of all tornadoes are rated EF-3 or higher, according to CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller. An EF-3 rating indicates maximum wind speeds of 160 mph.
The tornado hit as Oklahoma and other parts of the Midwest were still reeling from a deadly spring storm system that has resulted in more than 170 reported tornadoes plus strong winds, flash flooding and hail.
In Oklahoma, area hospitals reported 92 injuries, the state health department said. Across the central United States, 10 people were killed and a 4-year-old boy is missing.
Friday, a state official said floods were believed to have impacted at least 1,000 homes, especially in northeastern Oklahoma around the swollen Arkansas River.
Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday amended an earlier executive order to declare a state of emergency in all 77 counties across the state because of the severe weather.