Weeks after a tornado flattened the City of Moore, Oklahoma is recovering again from a tornado that touch down during rush hour traffic on Interstate 40 on Friday. Nine people are reported dead.
“We believe all the victims were in vehicles when the storm came through,” Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West said Saturday.
As the storm approached, some residents remembering the horrific aftermath of Moore, decided to pack into their cars and head to safety. The highways became more congested and left many motorists trapped on Interstate 40 as the Tornado touched down.
Amy Williamson, a local resident of Yukon said when she heard the tornado was heading towards her home she backed everyone into her SUV. “We felt like getting out of the way was the best idea,” Williamson said. “It was 15 minutes away from my house, and they were saying it was coming right down I-40, so we got in the car and decided to head south.”
Williamson stated that she is aware of the suggestions of emergency officials to take shelter inside a building, but she like many others, had the scene of the aftermath of the tornado that struck Moore several weeks ago embedded into her mind, and like many others tried to outrun the storm.
“They had no place to go, and that’s always a bad thing. They were essentially targets just waiting for a tornado to touch down,” Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said.
“I’m not sure why people do that sort of stuff, but it is very dangerous. It not only puts them in harm’s way, but it adds to the congestion. It really is a bad idea for folks to do.”
The Tornado literally sucked people from their cars. A mother and baby were missing from a car on Interstate 40.
In Harrah, a city east of Oklahoma City a man was missing from a vehicle, according to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.
The storm hit Interstate 40, between El Reno and Yukon, leaving miles of twisted metal, downed billboards, tree limbs and a huge oil drum.
More than 91,800 homes and businesses were without power on Saturday, according to the Oklahoma Corp. Commission.
Canadian County Sheriff Randall Edwards said he took a helicopter ride Saturday morning to survey the damage and estimated 150 structures were badly damaged.
“That number could rise,” he said. “And those were mostly houses that got hit.”
The sheriff said first responders are continuing to look for survivors who may be trapped under debris.
Story by Veverly Edwards with contributions from Sean Murphy of The Associated Press, The AP’s Ken Miller in Oklahoma City and Jim Suhr in St. Louis.