Oklahoma tornado kills 4; A state of emergency was declared amid the damage

SULFUR, Okla. (AP) — Tornadoes in Oklahoma killed four people, including a child, and left thousands without power, after severe weather unleashed destruction Sunday that flattened buildings in the center of a rural town and injured at least 100 people across the state. .

More than 20,000 people were still without power after the storm hit Saturday night. The destruction was extensive in Sulphur, a town of about 5,000 people, where a tornado tore down several downtown buildings, tossed cars and buses and sheared roofs off homes across a 15-block radius.

“You can't believe the devastation,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said during a visit to the hard-hit city. “Every trading town seems to have been destroyed.”

Stitt said about 30 people in Sulphur, including some at the bar, were injured when the tornado struck. Hospitals across the state reported about 100 injuries, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Among the dead was an infant, according to Hughes County Emergency Management Director Mike Dockray told Oklahoma TV station COCO.

President Joe Biden on Sunday said Gov. White House officials said they had spoken with Stitt and offered the federal government's full support.

Deadly weather in Oklahoma wreaked havoc with dozens of tornadoes. Mid country from Friday. On Sunday, authorities in Iowa said one person injured during Friday's tornadoes in Minden has died. For local reports.

Officials said the tornado of sulfur started in a city park before sweeping through downtown, flipping cars and tearing off roofs and walls of brick buildings. Windows and doors were blown away from standing structures.

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“How do you rebuild that? It's an absolute disaster,” said Kelly Trussell, a lifelong Sulfur resident, as she surveyed the damage. “It's crazy, you want to help, but where do you start?”

Carolyn Goodman drove from the nearby town of Ada to Sulfur in search of her former brother-in-law, who said Goodman had been at a local bar before the tornado hit the area. Stitt said one of the victims was found inside the bar, but authorities have not yet identified the victims.

“The bar was cleared,” Goodman said. “I know they won't find her alive … but I believe she's still alive.”

To the north, a tornado killed two people and damaged or destroyed more than a dozen homes near the town of Holdenville, according to Hughes County Emergency Medical Services. Another person was killed on Interstate 35 near the southern Oklahoma city of Marietta, state officials said.

Heavy rains that accompanied the hurricane in Oklahoma caused dangerous flooding and water rescues. Outside Sulphur, rising lake levels closed the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, where storms destroyed a pedestrian bridge.

Stitt issued an executive order on Sunday declaring a state of emergency in 12 counties due to the fallout from severe weather.

In the Sulfur High School gymnasium, where families sheltered from the storm, Jacqueline Wright said she and her family heard what sounded like a helicopter as the tornado touched down.

Chad Smith, 43, said people ran into the gym because of the wind. The rain started coming down fast and the doors were slammed shut. “Give me a beer and a lawn chair and I'll sit out and watch it,” Smith said. Instead, he disappeared.

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Residents of other states also dug in Storm damage. A tornado in the suburbs Omaha, Nebraska, Torn down homes and businesses on Saturday, it moved for miles through farmland and into subdivisions before hitting Iowa City.

Tornado damage began Friday afternoon near Lincoln, Nebraska. An industrial building in Lancaster County was hit, collapsing with 70 people. Several people were trapped, but all were evacuated, and all three injuries were not life-threatening, officials said.

People look at tornado damage after a severe storm hit Sulphur, Okla., Sunday, April 28, 2024.  (AP via Brian Terry/The Oklahoman)

People look at tornado damage after a severe storm hit Sulphur, Okla., Sunday, April 28, 2024. (AP via Brian Terry/The Oklahoman)

Charlie Schweck walks past his property in Sulphur, Okla., after a tornado hit Sulphur, Okla., Sunday, April 28, 2024.  (Brian Terry/The Oklahoman via AP)

Charlie Schweck walks past his property in Sulphur, Okla., after a tornado hit Sulphur, Okla., Sunday, April 28, 2024. (Brian Terry/The Oklahoman via AP)

One or two tornadoes then crept toward Omaha, with sustained winds of 135 to 165 mph (217 to 265 km/h), leaving damage consistent with an EF3 twister. .

Nebraska Gov. Jim Billon and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds toured the damage Saturday and organized aid efforts for damaged communities. Formal damage assessments are still underway, but states plan to seek federal assistance.

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Associated Press reporters Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas, and Sophia Tareen in Chicago contributed to this report.

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