15 Years Later Victims Remember Catoosa Tornado

Thursday, April 24th 2008, 10:37 pm
By: News On 6

Thursday marks a deadly anniversary. It was 15 years ago a killer tornado took direct aim at Catoosa. News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports many people remember it like it was yesterday.

The tornado that hit Catoosa on April 24th, 1993, was one of six twisters to hit the area that day.  It proved to be the most destructive and most deadly.

Seven people were killed, six when the tornado hit I-44 near what was then called Bruce's Truck Stop.

Ronald Williams remembers that day well.  He covered up with mattresses in a hallway in his home, which had roof damage.

"It slapped back and fractured the rafters," said Williams.

Williams' fiance, Mary Lenard, says she was only about a half-mile from the tornado when it touched down.

"It's just a shame.  The damage that was done to the people's lives and their homes.  Having to rebuild it's hard," said Lenard.

The F-4 tornado, with its 200-plus mile per hour winds, caused more than $50 million in damage, including leveling Henry Allison's restaurant equipment business.  Pictures of the damage still hang on the wall of his office.

"I lost a lot of equipment in it.  We had equipment in Inola; people would call us and say they found a piece of our equipment.  And that's a pretty good ways to blow it," said Allison.

Allison has since rebuilt.  So have hundreds of others impacted by the storm. But they haven't forgotten the storm's fury, 15 years later.

"Yeah. I'll never forget that. I don't think I ever will," said Allison.

The tornado in Catoosa was on the ground for six miles. It ranks as one of the top 10 most costly tornados in Oklahoma history over the past half century.