Oklahoma governor: We need lots of prayers tonight

SCOTT PELLEY: Mary Fallin is the Governor of Oklahoma; we spoke to her by telephone. Governor Fallin, what do you know so far?

GOV. FALLIN: Well, we know we've had a massive tornado that has come through a major metropolitan area in Moore, Okla. It was a very wide tornado, a very strong tornado. It has damaged lots of neighborhoods, it's hit two schools that possibly had school children in them. It's also it a hospital and a big movie theater and a commercial area.

We've had some highways shut down, a major interstate highway. Of course, right now, we're in the search-and-rescue mode, and lots of law enforcement, National Guard, Highway Patrol, local people out in the community itself trying to see if there are people trapped in the debris itself.

And we're very concerned about the schools that were hit, and certainly the hospital and the movie theater, in particular. We have lots of homes that have been damaged, but we are in our emergency command center right now, with all of our various state entities and local charities and our office of emergency management.

Watch: Severe tornado tears through Oklahoma City suburb, below.

And we were fortunate that we have some here with FEMA that was - that had come in yesterday, because of the tornadoes that had struck Oklahoma, so we've had close collaboration with FEMA and have been working with the federal authorities to get immediate assistance into Oklahoma.

PELLEY: These are early hours yet, but do you know anything about casualties?

GOV. FALLIN: We don't know anything about casualties, but you've got to wonder with the massive destruction that we're seeing from the pictures on TV that it would be a miracle if people didn't get harmed in this storm.

We know that we do have school children and people that are being taken to local hospitals. There's been a triage unit set up in front of the movie theater that was hit.

We know that nurses have been called in to the local area to provide emergency services to people that are in those various communities, and the hard part is we still have active bad thunderstorms in many areas of the state right now that we're currently monitoring, and that's on top of the areas that were hit hard yesterday that are trying to recover.

Massive, mile-wide tornado rips through Oklahoma City area

PELLEY: What do you know about the schools that were hit? You said there were two.

GOV. FALLIN: We know that we had a grade school that was hit, and the storm developed very, very rapidly, and we believe there were children in the school. We don't know if any of them were taken out, but we do know there were some children in the school itself.

The storm came up so very quickly that there really wasn't time to take the children from the school somewhere else or even for parents to get there, and so we're really just praying that the children were in a safe location. But there are people in the ground right now.

The other school is a high school. We haven't received any information on it yet, but there's a lot of emergency personnel at these sites. We have called up the National Guard to go into the areas and help. We're just challenged right now, because there was so much damage on the highways and also in the neighborhoods that it's hard to even get into these areas. And our cell phone coverage and our phone services have been jammed, because there's so many people trying to call in and get information at this point.

So we have our National Guard, our Office of Emergency Management and our Department of Public Safety that have personnel on the ground, but we're also taking people down there from the command center so that we can get more accurate information.

PELLEY: What does the state of Oklahoma need tonight?

GOV. FALLIN: We need lots of prayers tonight. We need just people to pray for those that have been injured and those that have lost so much, and we pray there hasn't been any loss of life, but it will be a miracle if people survive the massiveness of this storm itself.

Certainly, we could use contributions to our local charities and to get help from that. We're going to be setting up a governor's disaster relief fund, because there have been a lot of people that have lost so much, not only yesterday but certainly also today.

  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor and Managing Editor, "CBS Evening News;" Correspondent, "60 Minutes"

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