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Lengthy Storm Cleanup Closes Westport Marina For Summer, Owner Says

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PAWNEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - Now that the sun is out, it's a lot easier to see how badly Westport Marina was hit by Wednesday night's spring storm.

The owner says the damage will force the facility, which is just outside of Cleveland, to remain closed this year while a lengthy process begins to remove debris.

Storm cleanup on solid ground can start sooner, but on Keystone Lake, it may take weeks before the damage can start to be removed. That's because special crews will have to be assembled to get on the water in boats to take apart the structure, marina owner John Mullen said.

You can't haul off the debris on trucks and or bring in cranes, and people and equipment have to be staged, he said. And the water factor makes things a bit of a hassle.

“You have to cut it apart,” he said. “You have to cut it into little pieces. And it's a very dangerous process all of the tin debris and metal. It's not fun."

After high winds ripped up the marina at Cowskin Bay, our spotters saw a funnel drop near Appalachia Bay, and it continued to move down the Keystone Expressway, overturning vehicles, snapping trees and demolishing buildings and mobile homes. One person was killed when it reached Sand Springs.

The governor since has declared a disaster in 25 Oklahoma counties.

3/26/2015 Related Story: Osage SkyNews 6 HD Flies Over Sand Springs Tornado Damage

In the dark of night, we couldn't even see how far out the docks went on Cowskin Bay or how many boats were under the marina roof. On Thursday morning, the marina owner said there were about 40 boats hidden under the twisted metal. Despite the destruction, no one was hurt.

All morning long, our crews saw people stopping to check out the aftermath, but for safety reasons, the area now has been closed.

The power also has been cut due to downed lines, and since the ramps are damaged and the whole structure is unstable, the public is asked to stay away.

Boat owners like Mike Hendricks are waiting to see how many watercraft make it out intact. Hendricks said his boat will, as long as the wind and demolition process doesn't take it out first.

It may put a damper on the upcoming lake season, but Hendricks said, "it's part of boating, and every once in a while, it's gonna happen."

The marina has been hit by five tornadoes, Mullen said. The high winds that collapsed the marina and later developed into a tornado makes it the sixth time a storm has demolished the facility.

As for Mullen, he says dealing with property damage is never easy, but as always... he'll rebuild.


3/26/2015 Related Story: West Tulsa Gymnastics School Owner Hailed As Hero As Storm Hits

3/26/2015 Related Story: Tour of Sand Springs Mobile Home Park Shows Massive Tornado Damage




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