Watch CBS News

Tornadoes leave a trail of destruction in Oklahoma, communities begin to assess damage

At least 4 killed by Oklahoma tornadoes
At least 4 killed by Oklahoma tornadoes, destruction from storms strewn across 6 states 04:05

Multiple tornadoes tore across Oklahoma on Saturday night, leaving a wide trail of destruction, leveling homes and buildings and knocking out power for tens of thousands of residents and businesses. At least four people were killed in the state, including a child.

The region remained on high alert for severe weather after thunderstorms and tornados rolled through Friday and Saturday from Texas to the Great Lakes. About 106 tornadoes were detected in six states on Friday, with Nebraska and Iowa the hardest hit, officials said.

Officials in Pottawattamie County, in southwest Iowa by the Nebraska border, said one resident was killed and three others hurt by severe weather that hit Friday.

In Oklahoma, a tornado ripped through Holdenville, a small town of about 5,000 people, around 11 p.m. Saturday night, destroying or damaging several buildings in its path. Hughes County Emergency Medical Services said Sunday morning that at least four people were injured — three with major injuries — and two people died. The victims were an adult and a minor, it said, but did not provide any additional information.

On Sunday morning, Gov. J. Kevin Stitt declared an emergency disaster for 12 counties, including Carter, Cotton, Garfield, Hughes, Kay, Lincoln, Love, Murray, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Payne, and Pontotoc. This will allow the state to provide the necessary help for these communities. He said in a video posted on Facebook that he plans to visit the impacted communities to assess the damage.

"You just can't believe the destruction," Stitt said. "It seems like every business downtown has been destroyed."

Stitt on Sunday spoke with President Biden, who "offered the full support of the federal government," the White House said in a statement.

In nearby Sulphur, a small town of about 5,000 people 80 miles south of Oklahoma City, at least two tornadoes were reported, while another hit Marietta and traveled directly over Interstate 35. One person was killed near Marietta, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Tornadoes in Sulphur and Marrietta were rated at least EF3 based on preliminary survey results, the National Weather Service said Sunday.

Tornado destruction in Marietta, Oklahoma on April 28, 2024. Cole Reed via Facebook

Videos and photos emerging on social media early Sunday morning showed heavy damage across Sulphur, including scattered bricks, wooden beams and toppled trees. Buildings in the downtown area had blown-out windows and missing walls across a 15-block radius.

Red Cross Oklahoma said it was opening a shelter in Sulphur and was in contact with officials to help with the immediate needs of affected residents throughout the state.

Communities in Garfield, Grant, Kay, Payne and several other counties in Oklahoma also suffered damage to homes and other structures, officials said.

The National Weather Service in Norman said early Sunday that flash flooding was now the primary threat after the tornado warnings were lifted.

Nearly 33,000 people in Oklahoma were without power on Sunday morning, according to, which tracks electric utility outages. In Texas, nearly 67,000 customers were without power.

In Kansas, the National Weather Service confirmed a "large and dangerous tornado" touched the ground near the town of Howard on Saturday afternoon. 

The National Weather Service confirmed Saturday that multiple tornadoes touched down in at least three North Texas counties the day before, including three tornadoes in Navarro County. Two of them were EF1 tornadoes with wind speeds more than 100 miles per hour. The third EF0 tornado touched down north of Frost. Some homes there are leveled with trees and metal lining the area.  

The Friday night tornadoes wreaked havoc in the Midwest, particularly in Nebraska and Iowa, causing a building to collapse with dozens of people inside and destroying and damaging hundreds of homes.

The sounds of chainsaws filled the air on Saturday in the Elkhorn neighborhood of Omaha, a city of 485,000 people with a metropolitan area population of about 1 million.

Severe Weather Midwest
Homeowners assess damage after a tornado caused extensive damage in their neighborhood northwest of Omaha in Bennington, Neb., Friday, April 26, 2024. Josh Funk / AP

"We watched it touch down about 200 yards over there," Elkhorn resident Pat Woods told CBS News. "And then we went to get shelter and we came, but we could hear it going through. When we came back up, our fence was gone and we looked over to the northwest and the whole neighborhood is gone."

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen on Sunday issued emergency declarations for Douglas, Lancaster and Washington Counties.

The National Weather Service was still evaluating the number and strength of the twisters.

Nearly 47 million people are at risk for severe weather Sunday from east Texas northward into the upper Mississippi River Valley.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.