2 Killed, Dozens Injured After El Reno Tornado, Officials Say
EL RENO, Okla. (KFOR) – The City of El Reno held a press conference Sunday morning to give an update following deadly storms.
According to El Reno city mayor Matt White, a total of 29 people were taken to the hospital with minor to critical injuries as a result. 16 of the injured were transported from the scene and 13 were taken in private vehicles. At least two people were killed during the storm; however, their names have not been released as of Sunday morning. The medical examiner was on the scene.
Residents in the area had only a few minutes of warning before the tornado touched down.
Emergency crews were called to the American Budget Value Inn after it suffered extensive damage due to the tornado.
Initial reports indicated that at least 30 people were inside the motel when the storm hit the building, later traveling to the Skyview Trailer Park.
According to Mayor White, everyone at the motel has been accounted for. On Sunday morning, emergency crews were still searching through the rubble at the mobile home park to continue looking for possible victims.
All residents in the mobile home park were evacuated to the VFW in El Reno.
Tweety Garrison was at a home in the mobile home park when the storm hit. She was inside with five people and told News 4 they were thankful to be alive.
“The trailer on the lot next to us flipped over on top of our trailer when the trailer hit and smashed it,” Garrison said. “We had debris coming down on top of us and knocked us all down.”
According to Garrison, there was “no way we could have gotten out without help”. She said her son was to get the roof the trailer off of the family trapped underneath.
Mayor White said the tornado hit near I-40 and Highway 81 at the Diffee and Rick Jones car dealerships, the mobile home park, and the motel, then traveling across the highway.
“We just cannot do it without all the help we’ve had,” said White, adding that agencies from across the state have stepped up to help. “The people of El Reno are the strongest people I’ve ever met in Oklahoma. We’re caring, kind and it’s a very trying time for us.”
The National Weather Service says the tornado has been rated as an EF3. The tornado was about 75 yards wide at its widest point and was on the ground for 2.2 miles. The tornado began around 10:28 p.m. and lasted four minutes.
City officials are asking the public to give first responders space as they continue their search and rescue efforts.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the eastbound and westbound I-40 off-ramps (mm 125) to US-81 and northbound and southbound US-81 in El Reno at I-40 are closed through Sunday evening for emergency management operations in the area and for storm debris clean-up.
Southbound US-81 is detoured to eastbound SH-66 while northbound US-81 is detoured at the eastbound I-40 on-ramp.
Drivers are urged to avoid the area throughout the day.
Overall, White is asking for prayers.
“Pray for the families, people have absolutely lost everything. you’re not going to believe the devastation,” he said. “We’re a family here in El Reno, we’re a community, we’re a tight-knit group.”
The Red Cross is on the scene to assist with recovery efforts.
And, any customers with Rukes Pharmacy affected by the storms and need medicine are asked to call (405)314-6345.
Click here for how you can help.