Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2008 – 3:30 a.m. – Situation Update 2
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Michelann Ooten, Public Information Officer
TORNADOES HIT NORTHEAST, SOUTHEAST AREAS OF STATE
A strong storm system moved across Kansas Saturday, producing strong wind shear aloft. As this system approached, tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico moved into Oklahoma. This combined with daytime heating to produce a very unstable atmosphere. Storms rapidly developed this Saturday afternoon and became super cells. These storms went on to produce numerous tornadoes as they moved east at 35-45 mph.
Injuries and Fatalities
Seven (7) fatalities are confirmed in Picher.
About 150 injuries reported in the Picher area.
Ottawa County Emergency Management reports homes, businesses and vehicles were destroyed in a 20-square-block area at the south end of Picher. In some cases, only a home’s concrete slab remains. The storm downed power lines, utility poles and trees. Saturday evening first responders went house to house digging through the rubble to free those who were trapped. At daylight today, the search for additional victims will continue. Damage also reported in Peoria and Quapaw.
Pittsburg County Emergency Management reports homes were damaged in Haywood after a tornado hit in the community southwest of McAlester. A tornado was also reported near Crowder.
Additionally, a tornado was reported near Clayton in Pushmataha County.
The American Red Cross has opened a shelter at the First Christian Church in Miami. The Red Cross is also providing refreshments for rescue workers.
State and Local Assistance
- Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) personnel continue to provide perimeter control and other assistance in Picher. Command One, the state’s mobile command unit is on site to assist response efforts.
- Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) personnel are on site assisting local response efforts.
- The Oklahoma Department of Transportation reports highways 69 and 69A remain closed in and out of Picher.
- Oklahoma National Guard personnel are expected to arrive in Picher around 7 a.m. today. They will assist with perimeter control.
- Tulsa’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team is expected to arrive in Picher later this morning. They will assist local officials in the search for additional victims.
- Additionally, many emergency managers, fire, law enforcement and emergency medical first responders continue to assist in Picher. Jurisdictions represented include Commerce, Quapaw, Miami, Wyandotte, Fairland, Afton, Bartlesville and Cherokee. Officials from Kansas and Missouri also assisted in Picher.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports about 6,300 homes and businesses are without electric service due to the storms. This includes 3,000 PSO customers, primarily in the Tulsa area, 1,500 Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative customers and 1,800 Empire District Electric Company customers in the Picher, Welch, Peoria and Commerce areas.
For Oklahoma residents seeking non-emergency disaster or health and human service information, please contact your local 2-1-1. Services are available 24 hours a day by dialing 2-1-1 from your home or cellular telephone.
- Tulsa Area/Green Country, dial 2-1-1 or 918-836-4357
- OKC Metro/Central OK, dial 2-1-1 or 405-286-4057
- Southeastern OK, dial 2-1-1 or 580-332-0558
- Northeast OK, dial 2-1-1 or 918-336-2255
- Southwest OK, dial 2-1-1 or 580-355-7575