A large tornado that cut through a tiny southeastern Oklahoma town killed at least two people and injured dozens more as it tore up roofs, shattered windows and tossed power lines and trees.
The storm ripped through Tushka Thursday night and left the town of about 350 people some 120 miles southeast of Oklahoma City without a public school and forced many people to seek shelter with relatives, friends or churches serving as shelters. Semi-trailers and trees were scattered on the main highway, U.S. 69, and authorities closed off some roads because of downed power lines and trees.
Easton Crow, a junior at the public school where students from kindergarten through 12th grade attend, said he was at a baseball game in nearby Hugo when the storm hit. He went by the school after returning home and saw the damage: The roof was gone, the top story of one of the school’s buildings was torn off and textbooks were scattered everywhere.
“I’m heartbroken. This is where most of us grew up,” Crow, 17, said. “I’m just in awe that in a few seconds memories that have been built were taken.”
Principal Matt Simpson said the school won’t be usable for the rest of school year and officials must figure out where students will attend class.
“I’ve been doing this for 10 years, but this is definitely new for me,” Simpson said. “It means a lot of challenges I wasn’t expecting.”
Simpson said the twister completely destroyed at least five school buildings. The campus is littered with downed trees and bricks blown from the buildings.
Salvation Army Capt. Ric Swartz says the women killed by the twister in Tushka late Thursday were in their 70s. Their names have not been released.
Paul Reano, CEO of Atoka County Medical Center, said 25 people were treated Thursday night for injuries related to the storm — ranging from cuts and scratches to more serious injuries. Reano did not have details on the more serious injuries.
In Sulphur, police reported that softball-sized hail — 4 inches in diameter — fell for a brief time. The National Weather Service said it received similar reports from Dunbar and Tishomingo.
In Osage County, northwest of Tulsa, one house and a business were damaged as the storm moved through, said Deputy Emergency Management Director Adrian Horn.
Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Joey Wakefield said it was believed a tornado touched down near Stroud between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, though it might have been strong winds. The storm damaged a barbecue restaurant.
Marshall County Emergency Management Director Hubert Weaver said three structures in his county suffered roof damage, but no injuries were reported.
High winds associated with the same storm system killed five people in central and western Arkansas early Friday.