Liz Holliday

Communications Specialist

Tornado touches down in rural Ottawa County

Residents in Ottawa County, Oklahoma pick up the pieces after trained spotters report a tornado touching down Monday evening.
According to the National Weather Service trained spotters reported a tornado at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, located about eight miles south of Quapaw, Oklahoma. NWS says the report is preliminary until surveyors assess the damage to determine the strength and path.
“I’ve seen tornadoes before but I’ve never been in the path of one,” said Ottawa County resident Larry Davis.
When Davis stepped out of his safe room he was confronted with overturned semis and his son’s diesel business in shambles. He says the damage was pretty shocking.
“Disbelief is about all you can say, it’s just pretty awesome,” Davis said.
Authorities report about 15 homes sustained damage with tree limbs and power lines down on one stretch of road off of East 130 Road.
“This is ground zero right here, just a major amount of damage,” said Joe Dan Morgan, the Ottawa County Director of Emergency Management. “It had this intersection blocked for quite a while, with all these poles and debris that was in the road.”
Though emergency services says the tornado was only on the ground for mere seconds, it was just enough time to leave behind an extensive amount of damage.
“We had very little warning and the way it worked out, no harm done to people, but a lot of property damage,” Morgan said.
Morgan reports that no one was injured and first responders like the Wyandotte Fire Department were on hand 20 minutes after the storm hit to help pick up the pieces.
“Basically, just taking an assessment of damage, of houses, helping people at least get tarps over their roofs to where they don’t have anymore rain damage to what they’ve already sustained,” says Chris Turner, the Assistant Chief of the Wyandotte Fire Department.
As for Davis, he says he is thankful for the help from first responders like Turner.
“Just doing everything they can to kind of get things back to where we can do something, there’s just so much to do, you don’t know where to start,” Davis said.
Davis says his son’s shop is insured and they will begin the process of rebuilding. Morgan said that despite damage all residents he spoke with were counting their blessings that no one in their community was killed or injured, and that all residents can do is watch out for weather warnings and then do the best job possible to respond to it when it’s over.

This story was originally written for KOAM-TV News in May 2013.

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