Officials assess damage after twisters, floods sweep across Midwest, Plains

OKLAHOMA CITY — Emergency officials set out Saturday to assess damage from a series of violent storms and tornadoes that killed nine people as it swept through Oklahoma City and its suburbs with tornadoes, large hail and heavy rain. More than six dozen people were injured.

Muddy floodwaters stood several feet deep in the countryside surrounding the metro area. Torrential downpours followed for hours after the twisters moved east, and water damage was reported at the city’s airport. The storms battered a state still reeling after the top-of-the-scale EF5 tornado that ripped through suburban Moore last month, killing 24 people and decimating neighborhoods.

Water surged hood-high on many streets, snarling traffic at the worst possible time: Friday’s evening commute. Even though several businesses closed early so employees could beat the storm home, highways were still clogged with motorists worried about a repeat of the chaos in Moore.

Bart Kuester, 50, a truck driver from Wisconsin, said he was driving along Interstate 35 past Moore when he realized a dangerous storm was approaching.

“I heard the sirens going off and I could see it coming,” he said.

Kuester said the interstate was flooded and jammed with people trying to outrun the storm.

“Everyone was leaving. … Just because that one that hit Moore was so fresh in their memory,” he said.

Though it was in the tornado warning zone, Moore was spared major damage by the storms, but still experienced heavy rain and high wind. A convention center where the town held its graduation in the days after the storm suffered minor flooding damage, officials said.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office said a man was missing from a vehicle near Harrah, east of Oklahoma City, and a pair of sinkholes were reported on each side of the metro area.

When the storm passed between El Reno and Yukon, it barreled right down Interstate 40 for more than two miles, ripping billboards down to twisted metal frames. Debris was tangled in the median’s crossover barriers, including huge pieces of sheet metal, tree limbs, metal pipes, a giant oil drum and a stretch of chain-link fence.

The warped remains of a horse trailer lay atop a barbed-wire fence less than 50 yards from the highway.

Violent weather also moved through the St. Louis area. Early aerial images of the storm’s damage showed groups of homes with porches ripped away, roofs torn off and piles of splintered wood scattered across the ground for blocks. Officials in St. Charles County also reported that local schools suffered some damage.

Among the nine dead in Oklahoma were a mother and a baby found in a vehicle. Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the state medical examiner, said Saturday the death toll was up to seven adults and two children. At least 75 people were hurt, five critically, hospital officials said.

Meteorologists had warned about particularly nasty weather Friday but said the storm’s fury didn’t match that of the tornado that struck Moore. The Friday storm, however, brought with it much more severe flooding. It dumped around 8 inches of rain on Oklahoma City in the span of a few hours and made the tornado difficult to spot for motorists trying to beat it home.

“Some tornadoes are wrapped in rain, so it’s basically impossible to see, which is extremely dangerous,” said Bruce Thoren, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Norman. “Somebody driving along really not familiar with what’s going on can basically drive into it.”

Emergency officials reported that numerous injuries occurred in the area along I-40, and said the storm’s victims were mostly in cars. Standing water was several feet deep, and in some places it looked more like a hurricane had passed through than a tornado. More than 86,000 utility customers were without power.

Among the injured was Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Bettes, who suffered minor injuries when his “tornado hunt” SUV that he and two photographers were riding in was thrown 200 yards. The Weather Channel said all of the people in the vehicle were able to walk away, and that it was the first time a network personality was injured in a storm.

Will Rogers World Airport was slowly reopening Saturday and some flights were resuming. But the airport reported significant damage to the roof of the terminal, and flooding damage to walls, counters and floors.

In Missouri, the combination of high water and fallen power lines closed dozen of roads, snarling traffic on highways and side streets in the St. Louis area. At the Hollywood Casino in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights, gamblers rushed from the floor as a storm blew through, causing minor damage to the building.

The U.S. averages more than 1,200 tornadoes a year and most are relatively small. Of the 60 EF5 tornadoes to hit since 1950, Oklahoma and Alabama have been hit the most — seven times each.

National Weather Service meteorologists said Saturday that it’s unclear how many tornadoes touched down as part of the Friday evening storm system. Dozens of tornado warnings were issued for central Oklahoma and parts of Missouri, especially near St. Louis, they said, but crews must assess the damage before determining whether it was caused by tornadoes or severe thunderstorms.

But one thing is certain: The chances for severe weather are on the decline as a cold front moves through the region, said weather service meteorologist Gene Hatch in Springfield, Mo.

This spring’s tornado season got a late start, with unusually cool weather keeping funnel clouds at bay until mid-May. The season usually starts in March and then ramps up for the next couple of months.

———

THE ASSOCIATED PRESSs Ken Miller and Tim Talley in Oklahoma City, Justin Juozapavicius in Tulsa; Erica Hunzinger in Chicago; David Bauder in New York; Jeannie Nuss in Texarkana, Texas; and Jim Salter in Maryland Heights, Mo., and freelance photographer Nick Oxfrod in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

ad-high_impact_4
News
NSPCA Gets Kittens From LA
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like