Nowata Victims Salvage What's Left After Deadly Storms

Saturday, September 8th 2012, 9:29 pm
By: News On 6

High winds and rain battered Northeastern Oklahoma on Friday, taking four lives.

Although many people who survived the storm thought it was a tornado, the National Weather Service surveyed the damage and said it was actually straight-line winds.

At times, the gusts ranged from 80-100 mph.

9/8/2012 Related Story: Young Girl, Great Grandparents Killed In Nowata County Storm

9/8/2012: Straight-Line Winds Blow Over Semi Truck, Killing Driver

"For two years it took us to set this house up, and now it's just in the trees in a matter of a couple minutes," Nicole Donald said.

Donald was inside the house when the winds started to pick up.

She knew things were about to get bad, so she ran next door to her grandma's house.

"Jumped in the closet and as soon as I shut the closet door, it sounds like a suction and then a big boom, and it was the house being torn apart from the inside out," Donald said.

The house was literally ripped apart from the foundation.

It looks like someone pumped a bunch of air into the home, then the walls popped like a balloon.

"We come out and she said, 'grandma, your house is gone," Oneta McMullen said. "It's destroyed.' And I said, 'Oh it can't be' because we were sitting in there, you know. I come out and this is what it looked like."

McMullen is 88 years old.

She's lived in her home since 1962 and doesn't have any insurance.

"Just hang in here and do the best we can," McMullen said.

The National Weather Service also said baseball-sized hail pounded on the area.

A violent downburst is to blame for the uprooted trees, downed power lines and destroyed homes.

"It's very sad," storm victim Matt Rowell said. "It's indescribable."

Rowell wasn't home when the storm blew through.

But when he got to his house, he saw the storm's power.

"The siding on the front was really damaged," Rowell said. "The shed on the side is destroyed, and this shed behind me is quite damaged on the other side, and one of our windows is blown out. We lost a lot of our stuff."

Even though a lot was lost, Rowell says it's amazing to see the community come together during such a tragic time.

"When I showed up this morning, there was at least 20 people here already people in my yard cleaning," storm victim Matt Rowell said. "It was unbelievable. Nowata is full of amazing people."