Damage is widespread after a tornadoes ripped through the state.
Damage was also reported in the town of Cole, Oklahoma. Emergency responders were on the scene after some homes and at least one business sustained heavy damage. The Scissortail Silos wedding venue was destroyed. Three fatalities are being reported along with other injuries. “Based on the damage reports that we’re getting back, as significant as it is, there could be more injuries or deaths that we don’t know about at this time,” said McClain County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Gibbons.
Eyewitnesses reported the debris path was nearly a half mile wide. The National Weather Service later announced survey crews had found EF3 damage, but the survey is continuing.
Heavy damage was reported in Shawnee, with numerous homes and businesses damaged. Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee reported some damage, but no injuries to any of the students.
OBU released the following statement: Tornado clean-up and recovery efforts have begun at OBU after the campus was hit by a tornado Wednesday, April 19. While there was substantial damage to buildings throughout campus, there have been no reported injuries on campus. Classes have been cancelled for Thursday and Friday. Although power remains out, students on campus are safe and being cared for. Any students who have been displaced from their campus housing have been provided temporary relocation. Employees and volunteers, including Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, are assisting with cleanup. Others wishing to assist with recovery efforts can do so now by giving to OBU’s Tornado Relief Fund online.
Damage was also reported at an assisted living facility, in addition to damage around the mall and the Shawnee airport.
Large hail was also reported in the storms. Some reports of up to softball size hail was reported in some communities.
The Red Cross is opening shelters to anyone in need of help after the storms. The locations are:
- Noble High, 4601 E Etowah Road, Noble
- Citizen Potawatomi Reunion Hall, 1702 Gordon Cooper Drive, Shawnee
- Washington School Gym, 101 E Kerby Ave., Washington
Due to the damage left behind by the storms, the following schools have canceled classes:
- Bethel Public Schools
- Dibble Public Schools
- Earlsboro Public Schools
- Oklahoma Baptist University
- Shawnee Public Schools
Governor Kevin Stitt vowed to support those in need. "As we come together in prayer for all those affected, we’re working diligently to assess the damage and restore our communities," said Stitt.
Our Blood Institute put out an urgent call for blood donations, releasing the following statement:
"Our community was hit hard by tornadoes last night and we currently have less than a one-day supply of O-negative and B-negative blood units on hand. O-negative blood is especially important right now because it’s the only universal blood type and is the type that first responders use after a crisis strikes.
In addition, Our Blood Institute is a member of the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC), which is a national group of blood centers committed to preparing for mass transfusion disasters by collecting extra units for an emergency reserve. This week OBI is on-call for BERC, meaning we have held even more units on hand than usual for disasters like yesterday’s tornado outbreak.
Early reports show that the weather events last evening will have a significant impact on our upcoming blood drives scheduled this week, with potentially hundreds of blood units lost due to cancelled drives. Please donate today to help us secure the blood supply. We need to be ready in case another crisis strikes.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the towns of Cole and Shawnee, Oklahoma, and the surrounding communities that were hit by the tornadoes."
Senator Jessica Garvin represents some of the areas hardest hit by Wednesday night’s tornadoes. After the storms hit, she went to the communities of Cole, Goldsby, and Washington and said she was stunned by the extent of the destruction, but moved by how quickly Oklahomans stepped in to support their neighbors.
“It was extremely dark, but even at night I could see the scope of the devastation was shocking. I’d ask for all Oklahomans to please pray for those impacted throughout the state, especially for the families of those who were killed, those injured in the storm and those who have been displaced,” Garvin said. “But in the midst of the destruction, I witnessed the tireless efforts, not only by our first responders, but citizens within these communities as they immediately sprang into action to help each other. I was struck by how, on the anniversary of the Murrah bombing, we were seeing the Oklahoma Standard in action.”
Garvin said Washington’s school superintendent, Chris Reynolds, quickly opened up the high school at 101 East Kirby Avenue, for residents who needed medical attention, food, or shelter. The Red Cross is supporting that shelter.
“In addition to local volunteers and first responders, I want to thank the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for assigning emergency response team members to help with the search and rescue in Cole, and I thank the cities of Oklahoma City and Moore, which have also provided resources,” Garvin said.
The National Weather Service will be surveying the damage and providing more information, but as of now it appears there were at least eight tornadoes that touched down during the outbreak.