Remnants Of Tropical Storm Flood Oklahoma

Helicopter rescue, Oklahoma City floods, Aug. 19, 2007 CBS/KWTV

One woman drowned early Sunday and a motorist was missing after heavy rain and high winds from a tropical storm moved through Oklahoma, flooding homes and roads and knocking out power to thousands of residents.

A rural Fort Cobb woman was discovered drowned in her cellar shortly before noon Sunday after floodwaters inundated her home, said Caddo County Emergency Management Director Larry McDuffey.

"Evidently, she went to her cellar and the water overcame her and she couldn't get out," McDuffey said.

In nearby Carnegie, fast moving floodwaters forced an Oklahoma Highway Patrol dive team to suspend its search for the driver of a vehicle that was swept off a county road shortly after midnight, said OHP Capt. Chris West.

"The vehicle has been recovered, but the driver has not been found," West said.

Nearly 23,000 customers of Oklahoma Gas and Electric, mostly in the Oklahoma City area, remained without power about 11 a.m., the utility reported.

Some injuries were reported in Blaine County, where heavy flooding damaged homes and buildings in Watonga and Geary, said Blaine County Emergency Management Director Janell Wood.

"We have significant property damage. We have at least one house I know of that was destroyed," Wood said. "There is a lot of flooding and power lines down, and we are working to get a shelter set up."

Heavy rainfall caused the roof of a nursing home in Geary to collapse, but there were no injuries reported and the residents were all transported to another nursing home in Hydro, Wood said.

News video showed mobile homes blown to pieces in Watonga and damage to a hangar and a small airplane at the Watonga airport, where an 82 mph wind gust was reported at 3 a.m. Water lapped at the foundations of houses in neighborhoods in the area. Damaged trees fell on homes.

At least two people suffered non-life threatening injuries after their mobile home was damaged by straight-line winds, emergency officials reported.

The entire town remained without power about 10:30 a.m., Watonga Police Chief Gary Clyden said.

"It was quite a night," Clyden told television station KWTV-9. "This was a bad boy. The rain was straight horizontal, and the wind was just awesome."

In neighboring Caddo County, hundreds of people were evacuated from homes in Fort Cobb, Carnegie and Apache after the Washita River flooded its banks, said Caddo County Emergency Management Director Larry McDuffey.

"Residents are being advised to stay in their homes and stay off all county roads," McDuffey said. "We have numerous bridges and roads that are washed out. It's very, very dangerous."

Flood conditions forced the temporary closure of Interstate 40 near El Reno. Traffic was backed up for miles after a creek overflowed and sent water across the roadway.

"We just got the road back open," Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Chris West said about 9:45 a.m. "I can't remember ever hearing of an interstate being shut down for six hours by a flood.

"You'd think Oklahoma was a Gulf Coast state and we just went through a hurricane or something."

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning Sunday for 11 counties stretching from south of Lawton, east to McAlester and north to Stillwater. A flood warning also remained in effect Sunday for several counties in Central Oklahoma.

Rainfall amounts exceeded 7 inches in some central Oklahoma communities as remnants of Tropical Storm Erin pushed through the area, according to the state Emergency Management Department.

Numerous swift-water rescues occurred early Sunday in Watonga and El Reno, said Michelann Ooten, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

The Greenfield Fire Department reported having more than 2 feet of water in its station.

Kiowa County emergency management officials reported damage from a possible tornado Saturday evening, Ooten said. A large barn was destroyed about 4 miles east-northeast of Hobart.

A tornado warning and tornado watches were issued for a number of areas throughout the state as the storm moved through.
  • James Klatell

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