Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 12, 2008 – 11:30 p.m. – Situation Update 4
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Michelann Ooten, Public Information Officer
STATE CONTINUES TO ASSIST WITH TORNADO DAMAGE
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 Saturday afternoon and became super cells. These storms went on to produce numerous tornadoes as they moved east at 35-45 mph.
Tuesday’s forecast calls for severe weather to return across the eastern half of Oklahoma. Destructive hail, tornadoes and damaging winds are all possible.
Injuries and Fatalities
The Picher tornado is now being blamed for seven (7) deaths. Today one person died due to carbon monoxide poisoning in Picher. A generator was in operation in the home’s garage. Two additional people were transported to a hospital via life flight.
The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office today released the names of the other six people who died due to the tornado. They are:
Samuel Don Berry (20), of Picher
Tracie Dawn Berry (19), of Picher
Darrell Edward Patterson II (28), of Wagoner
Chizuri Cox (80), of Picher
Mistie Dawn Kelley (30), of Picher
Linda Christine Mathis (48), of Picher
About 150 injuries reported in the Picher area.
Today, joint federal-state damage assessment teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and OEM joined Ottawa County and Picher emergency managers in conducting preliminary damage assessments (PDAs). The teams documented 167 damaged homes in Ottawa County. Of those 114 were destroyed, 30 had major damage, 7 had minor damage and 16 were affected (minimal damage such as missing shingles and broken windows). Based on these findings, tomorrow morning Gov. Brad Henry will request that President Bush declare Ottawa County a federal disaster area and provide assistance to individuals and businesses.
Chertoff and Paulison to Visit Picher
On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and FEMA Administrator Dave Paulison will tour the damage area in Picher. The federal officials will be joined by Gov. Brad Henry and Sen. James Inhofe for the tour.
The National Weather Service reports the tornado that hit Picher was an EF4, with winds 165 to 175 mph. The damage path was about 29 miles long with a maximum width of one mile.
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. Picher residents continue to sift through their damaged property in search of salvageable items. Roving patrols are being used to prevent looting.
Latimer County Emergency Management reports damage in the Yanush Community, located about 20 miles south of Wilburton on Highway 2. There, 50 houses were damaged and of those 8 were destroyed. Additionally, 1 business was destroyed. Numerous sheds, barns, garages and out buildings were destroyed. Trees and power lines were also downed by the storm.
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.
Shelter and Mass Feeding
The American Red Cross continues to operate a shelter at the First Christian Church in Miami. The Red Cross is also providing refreshments for rescue workers. Additionally, they are providing cleanup kits, rakes and shovels to assist those impacted by the Picher tornado.
The Salvation Army is feeding first responders and residents in the hardest hit areas of Picher. Additionally they are providing emotional and spiritual care for those impacted by the tornadoes.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief feeding teams are partnering with the American Red Cross to handle feeding needs at the shelter.
The Tzu Chi Foundation will be distributing gift cards Wednesday at Picher City Hall.
The Grand Gateway Areawide Aging Agency will offer services to the elderly at Picher City Hall beginning tomorrow,
Feed the Children provided water, cots and blankets to Picher Fire Department.
Convoy of Hope delivered personal hygiene kits, water and cleaning materials through Salvation Army officials who are on-site.
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 recovery efforts.
- Oklahoma National Guard personnel continue to assist OHP with perimeter control.
- Additionally, many emergency managers, fire, law enforcement and emergency medical first responders continue to assist in Picher.
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