EL RENO, Okla. – A tornado leveled a motel and tore through a mobile home park near Oklahoma City overnight, killing two people and injuring at least 29 others before a second twister raked a suburb of Tulsa more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) away, authorities said Sunday
The first tornado touched down in El Reno, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Oklahoma City, late Saturday night. It crossed an interstate and walloped the American Budget Value Inn before ripping through the Skyview Estates trailer park, flipping and leveling homes, Mayor Matt White said at a news conference.
"It's a tragic scene out there," said White. later that, "People have absolutely lost everything." He said the city was established in GoFundMe site, the City of El Reno Tornado Relief Fund, for affected families. Several other businesses were also damaged, though not the same extent as the motel.
The two people who were killed were in the mobile home park, White said. He didn't provide additional details about them. The 29 people who were injured were taken to hospitals, where some were undergoing surgery.
"The thing about El Reno is we are more than a community, we are a family. … We're going to overcome this. It's so devastating to see the The National Weather Service gave the tornado and EF3 rating, meaning it had wind speeds of 136-165 mph (219-266 kph). Personnel who investigated the damage said the tornado began around 10:28 pm Saturday and lasted for four minutes. The tornado was about 75 yards wide at its widest point and was on the ground for 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers).
The tornado was spawned by a powerful storm system that rolled through the state – the latest in a week of violent storms To hit the flood-weary Plains and Midwest that have been blamed for at least 11 deaths, including the two killed in El Reno.
, which is 110 miles (177 kilometers) northeast of El Reno. Pete Snyder, a hydrometeorological technician with the weather service in Tulsa, said crews were assessing damage to determine the tornado rating. The area also experienced damage from strong straight-line winds, he said.
The Sapulpa Police Department said on its Facebook page that it had not heard of any deaths and that only a few minor injuries had been reported.
Residents wandered around after the damage to the damage, carefully avoiding the fallen utility poles that blocked some streets. Among the buildings that were destroyed was a historic railroad building built in the early 1900s that the Farmers Feed Store had been using for storage. A furniture store's warehouse was also destroyed.
In Reno, emergency crews sifted through the rubble at the trailer park and motel, where the second story collapsed into a pile of debris strewn about the first floor and parking lot. Tweety Garrison, 63, told The Associated Press that she was in her mobile home with her husband, two young grandchildren and a family friend when she heard the storm coming and immediately hit the ground. Moments later, she heard her neighbor's mobile home slammed into her before being flipped over and landed on her robbery.
Garrison said the incident lasted five to 10 minutes and that she received a tornado warning go to the twister hit.
Her 32-year-old son, Elton Garrison, said he heard the wailing tornado sirens and had just laid down at home about half a mile away when his phone rank . He recognized his mother's number, but there was no voice on the other end when he answered. "I thought," That's weird, "" he said.
Then his mother called back, and delivered a chilling message: "We're trapped."
He said when he arrived at his parent's home, he found it blocked by debris and sitting with another trailer on top of it. He started clearing a path to the home so that he could eventually get a portion of an outside wall just so that all five occupants could slip beneath it and escape.
"My parents were in there and two of my kids, one 9 and the other 12. … My main emotion was fear, "said Elton Garrison, who has lived in El Reno for about 26 years. "I couldn't get out of there quick enough."
He said he wasn't alarmed by the warning sirens when he first heard them at home.
"We hear them all the time here, so it did not seem like a big deal. … I heard a lot of rain with the wind. But when the child got calm all of a sudden, that's when it didn't feel right. "
He said his parents had only recently recovered after losing their previous home to a few years ago.
"Now this," he said, before expressing gratitude that everyone inside his parents' home had emerged without serious injury.
next breath, it added: "Items can be replaced. Lives can't."
The storm is the latest hit hit the flood-weary central US and dumped yet more rain in the region's already bloated waterways. In Tulsa, Oklahoma's second largest city, authorities advised residents of some neighborhoods on Sunday to consider leaving the Arkansas River to be the city's oldest living system.
Downriver and about 100 miles southeast of Tulsa in Arkansas' second -largest city, Fort Smith, authorities said that 100 to 200 people had already evacuated their homes due to flooding, which was expected to get worse in the coming days.