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Wednesday, February 11, 2009


ARDMORE OKLAHOMA — Three people have been found alive but trapped in a Lone Grove home this morning, hours after a tornado killed eight people and injured 14 in this community of about 5,000 people.

As of 10:30 a.m., the trapped victims had not been freed, said City Manager Marianne Elfert, but the news that they are alive is a bright spot after a long, dark night of fear.

Last night, distraught Carter County Sheriff Ken Grace reported 15 dead in Lone Grove. That total dropped to eight this morning, as officials were able to get a more accurate tally.

“We know we have lost many lives in Lone Grove, and we pray the losses do not rise any higher,” Gov. Brad Henry said this morning. “We are doing everything we can to help the victims of yesterday’s tornadoes. We have dispatched state emergency management personnel and additional law enforcement officers to the hardest-hit areas ... to assist with response efforts there.

“We are coordinating resources with local first responders and emergency management officials to make sure our response and rescue efforts are as effective as possible. We will do everything we can to get Oklahomans the assistance they need.”

Sheriff’s officials said Lone Grove was devastated when a tornado estimated to be a half-mile wide tore through the middle of town, ripping buildings from slabs, demolishing dozens of mobile homes and snapping trees and power lines in its path.

“It looks just like any tornado footage you see on TV,” said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Bryant Harris, who lives in Lone Grove. “There’s nothing left ... twisted metal, cars turned upside down, cars in trees.”

Harris and his family rode out the storm in a tornado shelter.

The search for survivors was suspended about 1 a.m. and resumed today at daybreak. Last night, Carter County officials freed people from debris and wrecked cars and marked each area that had been searched with a bright orange X, but Grace said they ran out of light and manpower.

As many as 60 mobile homes in a single park were damaged by the tornado, according to Lone Grove Emergency Management.

The town lost its only furniture store on U.S. 70, and all that was left of the chamber of commerce, next door to John’s Furniture, was a slab and scattered debris. The UPS building, also on U.S. 70, lost part of its roof. Much of Lone Grove was without power through the night.

The neighboring community of Ardmore, which has a higher population, was largely spared. Sheriff’s officials said an area north of Ardmore was hit and a private school, Beavers Academy, was damaged.

The highway patrol is assisting the search in Lone Grove today, and National Guard troops are being mobilized to help with security, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Baptist Disaster Relief is offering food and counseling to people in Lone Grove.

In addition to Lone Grove, confirmed tornadoes caused damage in Edmond and Pawnee, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said. In Edmond, six homes were destroyed near W Sorghum Mill Road and N Kelly Avenue. Additional damage was reported in near Northwest Expressway and Rockwell Avenue.

Lone Grove survivors recall tornado