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Situation Update

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 9, 2007 – 3 p.m. Update #8

STORM DAMAGE REPORTS

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) continues to receive damage reports related to the flooding, severe storms and tornadoes that have moved through the state since Friday. The State Emergency Operations Center remains activated to assist local officials as many areas of Oklahoma continue to be impacted by the severe weather.

Weather

Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash flooding occurred Tuesday evening and early this morning. In downtown Medicine Park evacuations began at noon today. The action was taken as a precautionary measure due to the potential of a dam failure. In Cache, Indiahoma and the Wichita Mountain Estates local officials evacuated residents via boats and jet skis due to high water early this morning. In Apache, six families were evacuated due to flooding after storms moved through the town late Tuesday night. Additionally, local emergency managers report tornadoes touched down just west of Lawton near US-62, north of Faxon, near Gracemont, Minco and in El Reno.

Showers and thunderstorms remain possible across parts of the state through Friday. Much of Oklahoma remains under a flash flood watch through Thursday morning.

State Assistance

Gov. Brad Henry’s State of Emergency declaration for all 77 Oklahoma counties remains in effect. The declaration reiterates the availability of all state resources to Oklahoma cities, towns and counties. It provides a formal mechanism for local governments to seek reimbursement for recovery costs through the state’s disaster public assistance program should conditions warrant. The declaration also serves as a prelude to a federal disaster request, should one be necessary.

OEM worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure sandbags for the City of Bixby’s downtown district because the city’s floodwater pump is not working.

While the water main break has been repaired in Ralston, two Oklahoma National Guard water trailers remain there to provide potable water in the event of additional water system damage due to flooding.

Crews from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), Beckham and Roger Mills counties will be assisting the community of Sweetwater, in southern Roger Mills County. They are taking equipment, including trucks and loaders, to help residents put their lives and property back in order after a tornado struck the community on Saturday. They will be involved in general cleanup of debris and repair as needed, on both public and private property.

Injuries and Fatalities

One fatality and two minor injuries are attributed to the rash of severe weather which began Friday.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner reports a Canute man drown Sunday night following a one-vehicle accident. The man was driving along a county road two miles west and two miles north of Canute when his car was swept off the roadway due to high water during a thunderstorm, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) reports.

On man was injured when the truck he was driving was overturned this morning on I-40 as a tornado passed over the interstate near El Reno, OHP reports. Three other trucks were overturned at the same location. The individual was treated for injuries at a local hospital. His injuries were reported to be non-life threatening.

One minor injury was reported in Sweetwater due to the Saturday evening tornado however, the resident declined medical treatment.

Power Outages

OG&E reports 477 customers without power – 412 are in the El Reno area.

Shelters

The Great Plains Chapter of the American Red Cross has opened a shelter at Cameron Baptist Church in Lawton for individuals who had to evacuate their homes due to flooding, loss of power or those who may have special needs. This shelter will be open throughout Wednesday and Thursday if needed. Red Cross officials continue to monitor other locations across the state with a history of flooding and stand ready to open shelters if necessary.

Road Conditions

Motorists are urged to avoid driving into high water. It only takes a minimal amount of moving water for cars to be swept away and there may be unseen damage to the road. Motorists who encounter flooded roads should turn around and find an alternate route. Flash floods are the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the nation.

ODOT reports the following road conditions.

US-60 at Buck Creek, five miles west of Bartlesville in Osage County will be closed for about a week.
SH-10 at the Verdigris River, between Welch and Lenapah in Craig County is closed.
SH-80 near Ft. Gibson Lake in Cherokee County remains open, but is being watched closely.
SH-48 at the North Canadian River, west of Okemah in Okfuskee County remains open, but is being watched closely.

Damage Reports

The following reports were received related to the severe weather that occurred Tuesday and today.

Atoka Emergency Management reports the county had extensive flooding and damage to roads and bridges. The city received extensive rain water runoff but very little damages were reported.

Caddo County Emergency Management reports a tornado touched down northeast of Gracemont around 11 p.m. Tuesday leaving downed trees. No structures were damaged. In the Town of Apache power has been restored. Evacuated families are staying with local relatives or friends and no shelters are needed at this time. Flood waters are receding

Comanche County Emergency Management reports the Comanche County Board of Commissioners has declared Comanche County under a state of disaster after yesterday’s severe storms left much of the western and northern parts of the county with heavy flooding and damage. The board of commissioners is asking all citizens who have any flood or storm-related damage to call 2-1-1, an emergency information hotline, to report their damage and begin the county’s proper documentation. Comanche County Emergency Management, in conjunction with the Comanche County Sheriff’s Department and numerous volunteer fire departments, worked throughout the night rescuing nearly 40 Comanche County citizens from their flooded homes and stranded vehicles. No major injuries were reported throughout the rescue phase which ended shortly after 5 this morning. Those who call 2-1-1 to report any damage will be asked their name, address, contact information, a brief description of the damage they have incurred and if they will be needing shelter or aid. With additional rain in the forecast, and the floodgates from Lake Lawtonka being opened, the threat of flash flooding is still very possible. Therefore, the board of commissioners is encouraging citizens to be aware of the situation and to stay alert to the possibility of additional flooding. They also want to encourage everyone to report any damage they have incurred, or may incur through the next band of rain expected today. Calling 2-1-1 will help Comanche County officials begin their damage assessment and compile the proper documentation for assistance from the state and federal level. Comanche County Emergency Management also reminded all citizens to evacuate their homes immediately if floodwater approaches their residence and never drive through water crossing over a roadway.

Cotton County Emergency Management reports all creeks are out of their banks and all low lying land is flooded. We have minor road damage, however the creeks are still rising and more damage is likely. The northwest portion of the county has more flooding and damage as of this morning. With more water coming our way, the commissioners and emergency management director are expecting extensive flooding later today and into tomorrow.

El Reno Emergency Management reports just before midnight last night tornadic winds struck south central El Reno, causing extensive damage to several commercial and industrial addresses. Most damage was confined to an area west of South Shepard Avenue, east of South Choctaw Avenue, north of Interstate 40 and south of West Wade Street. The hardest hit area was in an industrial park along South Holloway Drive. Emergency managers from Canadian County, Oklahoma City and Yukon responded to the incident. Also helping were personnel from the Canadian County Sheriff’s Department as well as fire departments from Calumet, the Federal Correctional Institute, Mustang, Okarche, Yukon and Union City. By 1 a.m. most of the areas that were a potential threat to public safety had been blocked off and were secured. Throughout the early hours of the morning the American Red Cross and the El Reno Police and Fire departments established an emergency operations post at the Oklahoma Environmental Management Authority near the 1500 block of South Rock Island Avenue. Earlier today, El Reno Mayor Jimmy Moore signed a declaration of disaster as crews from the City of El Reno Public Works Department and Canadian County continued to work to clear streets of all debris. The declaration was forwarded to OEM. A number of power outages remain, but OG&E has been on scene all day along with representatives from Cox Cable and ONG. There is only one known injury -- the unidentified trucker who was injured when his semi-tractor overturned near mile marker 126 on Interstate 40. The truck was one of three that overturned during the height of the storm. Initial damage estimates are unavailable, but it is evident that three of the city’s largest employers, Dexter Axle, Gemini Coatings and Heritage Press, all suffered damages. Representatives from all three companies were on their properties determining damages to see if employees could return to work. Representatives from the City of El Reno will also be busy assessing damages on every street. Property owners who have damage to their homes or businesses are urged to contact (405) 262-2000 to report problems. The storm did only minor damage to two large mobile home additions that were lying in its path. The Veterans of Foreign Wars building on South Rock Island Avenue wasn't so lucky. It appears to have damage to the roof as well as most of its fencing.

Grady County Emergency Management reports a tornado touched down around 10:30 last night approximately two miles west of Minco, damaging one home, some barns, a carport and a silo full of grain. Grady County received major street flooding especially to small bridges on county roads many of which are washed-out. Will do damage assessment as soon as flood waters recede.

Mayes County Emergency Management reports minor flooding on some roads in low-lying areas. Some roads, where water has receded, have suffered flood damage.

Norman Emergency Management reports intermittent road flooding. Norman officials have barricades on standby at the following locations in anticipation of road closings caused by additional flooding. McGee Drive north of Lindsey Street, Midway Drive between Independence Drive and Pinafore Drive, 24th Avenue NW between SH-77 (Flood Avenue) and Franklin Road, Franklin Road between 24th Avenue NW & 12th Avenue NW, Intersection of 24th Avenue NW & Indian Hills Road, Franklin Road between Porter Avenue & 36th Avenue NE, Porter Avenue between Franklin Road & Tecumseh Road, 12th Avenue NE at Franklin Road, 24th Avenue NE at Franklin Road, Indian Hills Road between 12th Avenue NE and Porter Avenue, 36th Avenue NW north of Indian Hills Road northbound, and 120th Avenue SE south of SH-9.

Oklahoma City Emergency Management reports the following road closings due to storm damage: Western Avenue from NW 8th Street to NW 9th Street - building collapse; SE 17th Street from Central Avenue to Walnut Avenue - bridge approach washed out; SE 59th Street from Walker Avenue to Santa Fe Avenue - construction; SW 29th Street from Sara Road to Mustang Road - road washed out; and, SW Grand Boulevard at Brock Drive (east bound traffic) - bridge approach washed out. The following roads are closed due to high water conditions: SW 149th Street from May Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue; SW 34th Street from Harvey Avenue to Walker Avenue; Ann Arbor Avenue from Reno Avenue to NW 4th Street; Morgan Road from Reno Avenue to NW 10th Street; and at 1600 NE 51st Street.

Purcell Emergency Management reports some flooding causing infrastructure damage. A local railroad bridge was a concern for local officials however water has receded and the bridge is no longer a concern. Emergency managers are in the process of conducting additional damage assessments.

Tillman County Emergency Management reports County Road 236, two miles north of Grandfield Airport is closed. Little Deep Red Creek northwest of Grandfield is out of its banks and still rising. Deep Red Creek north of Grandfield on SH-36 and North Fork Red River are also out of their banks and rising.

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