Staff and Wire Reports
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Thousands were without power Friday after a tornado roared through the small town of Tushka in Atoka County Thursday night, killing two elderly sisters and injuring at least 15 others.
The twister destroyed a school, homes and several buildings. The sheriff of Atoka County also reported roofs were ripped off several buildings, including the local Walmart.
Emergency Management Officials said early estimates are that 60 homes have been declared a total loss.
Brandon Newberry is trying to cope with the damage his town sustained after the tornado.
"I never in my life thought this was going to happen," he said.
Newberry and his roommates had just enough warning to make it to a nearby tornado shelter before the twister hit. But his elderly neighbors didn't make it to a shelter and Newberry found them dead inside their mobile home after the storm passed.
"They were laying beside each other," Newberry said.
By the time Newberry found them he said there was little he or his friends could do to try and save them. They found the mobile home several feet from where it once stood.
"It's hard to tell someone it's going to be alright when you know it's not," he said.
Utility officials say more than 6,000 Oklahoma homes and businesses remain without power. The heaviest damage was near Tushka where Public Service Company of Oklahoma spokesman Ed Bettinger said a powerful tornado knocked down at least four high-voltage transmission lines. PSO reported about 700 customers were without power in the rural county early Friday afternoon.
Heavy outages also were reported in southwest Oklahoma after high winds moved through the area early Friday morning. More than 1,000 customers were without power in Beckham County, and another 870 lost power in the Lawton area.
OG&E reported another 1,000 customers were without power in central and southern Oklahoma.
The tornado was part of an outbreak of severe weather that extended east of I-35 from Ardmore to Ponca City caused multiple tornadoes and large hail.
At 4:15 p.m. storm spotters confirmed a very dangerous tornado moving near Shidler, northeast at 30 mph. Shidler is located about 30 miles east of Ponca City.
Another tornado was spotted in southeastern Oklahoma near Davis.
A third tornado was spotted northeast of Stroud at about 4:42 p.m. People in the area said the funnel appeared for only a minute or so, but blew out some windows in the area.
A tornado touched down near Welty at about 6:15 p.m. Welty is 15 miles south of Bristow.
A tornado was reported just north of Madill at 6:10 p.m. overturning three tractor trailers and damaging power lines. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said it may have hit a trailer park, but no injuries were reported. Marshall County Emergency Management Director Hubert Weaver said three structures had roof damage from the storm that hit east of town near Highway 99.
Storm trackers also spotted a tornado near Milburn at about 7 p.m.
Osage County deputy emergency management director Adrian Horn said a twister touched down near Hominy Thursday, damaging at least one home and a business, and knocking down telephone poles, power lines and trees. There were no reports of injuries.
Horn also said officials were trying to confirm whether a tornado touched down near Burbank.
Pontotoc County Emergency Management reported downed power lines and tree limbs in the Allen and Stonewall areas. Additional damage was reported south of Stonewall toward Fittstown where one trailer had its roof blown off and three homes lost roofs. A tree also fell on a car. Softball size hail was reported west of Hickory.