Oklahoma towns hard hit by tornadoes begin long cleanup after 4 killed in weekend storms


Several damages on the buildings and in the life of the victims

Destrucción de un tornado en Moore, Oklahoma, mayo de 2013
Destrucción de un tornado en Moore, Oklahoma, mayo de 2013Shutterstock

Small towns in Oklahoma began a long cleanup Monday after tornadoes flattened homes and buildings and killed four people, including an infant, widening a destructive outbreak of severe weather across the middle of the U.S.

Punishing storms that began late Saturday in Oklahoma injured at least 100 people, damaged a rural hospital, washed out roads and knocked out power to more than 40,000 customers at one point, state officials said. Tornadoes on Friday in Iowa and Nebraska also caused wide destruction and were blamed for one death.

The destruction was extensive in Sulphur, a town of about 5,000 people south of Oklahoma City, where a tornado crumpled many downtown buildings, tossed cars and buses and sheared the roofs off houses across a 15-block radius.

"You just can't believe the destruction," Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said during a visit to the hard-hit town. "It seems like every business downtown has been destroyed."

Stitt said about 30 people were injured in Sulphur, including some who were in a bar as the tornado struck. Hospitals across the state reported about 100 injuries, including people apparently cut or struck by debris, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. An infant was among those killed, Hughes County Emergency Management Director Mike Dockrey told Oklahoma television station KOCO.

White House officials said President Joe Biden spoke to Stitt on Sunday and offered the full support of the federal government.

The deadly weather in Oklahoma added to the dozens of reported tornadoes that have wreaked havoc in the nation's midsection since Friday. Another death was reported Sunday in Iowa, where officials in Pottawattamie County said a man critically injured during a tornado Friday had died.

In Oklahoma, authorities said the tornado in Sulphur began in a city park before barreling through the downtown, flipping cars and ripping the roofs and walls off of brick buildings. Windows and doors were blown out of structures that remained standing.

"How do you rebuild it? This is complete devastation," said Kelly Trussell, a lifelong Sulphur resident as she surveyed the damage. "It is crazy, you want to help but where do you start?"

Carolyn Goodman traveled to Sulphur from the nearby town of Ada in search of her former sister-in-law, who Goodman said was at a local bar just before the tornado hit