Woman Remembers Deadly Catoosa Tornado, 25 Years Later

Tuesday, April 24th 2018, 7:16 pm
By: News On 6

Tuesday marks 25 years since two deadly tornadoes touched down in Green Country. Seven people were killed and 94 others were sent to the hospital.

Six people killed in 1993 were at Bruce’s Truck Stop, which was nothing but twisted steel and debris after the tornadoes swept through.

“That particular tornado was rain-wrapped, which meant that nobody really saw the tornado except for just a few people. Overall, no one really had an idea that it was a tornado. Looked bad, but that was about it,” Chief Meteorologist Travis Meyer said.

It’s not called Bruce’s Truck Stop anymore, but the location serves a similar purpose.

The only reminder of what once was is a memorial dedicated to the victims.

4/24/2013 Related Story: 20 Years Later, Catoosa Tornado Survivor Recounts Experience

4/24/2008 Related Story: 15 Years Later Victims Remember Catoosa Tornado

“Power lines down. Dead horses in the ditch. Cars everywhere. It was awful,” Donna Tapley said.

It’s a day Tapley remembers well. At the time, she and her family lived less than half a mile from the truck stop.

"Earlier in the afternoon we had come off the navigational channel with our pontoon boat and we came back early because the weather was forecasting bad storms," she said.

When the storm hit, Tapley said she huddled in the bathroom with her four boys, and, when it was over, she couldn't believe the damage.

"All these families, their lives, their livelihoods, their work, their houses, some of them lost their lives. It took a long time for the community to get back on its feet," she said.

But the community has done just that. Twenty-five years later, the area boasts the Hard Rock Casino, new businesses, and where Bruce's once stood is now a busy QuikTrip.

However, what you see today compared to the carnage of 25 years ago is a harsh reminder of just how quickly Oklahoma weather can turn deadly.

“That was the last EF4 tornado that has hit Tulsa County. And we do believe that that’s, unfortunately, a possibility of happening again in the future, so people have to remember the past in order to prepare for the future,” Meyer said.