12 tornadoes confirmed in deadly Oklahoma outbreak

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 04/23/2023, 7:28 PM

(OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.) At least a dozen tornadoes touched down in central Oklahoma this week, officials confirmed Friday. 

Damage survey crews from National Weather Service Norman investigated Wednesday’s severe weather damage on Thursday and Friday and concluded two tornadoes were rated EF3 in Cole and south of Pink. 

The McClain County Sheriff’s Office reported two people were killed in Dibble during the storms and a third was transported in who had received fatal storm injuries in an adjacent county. 

An EF2 tornado also struck Shawnee, hitting Shawnee High School, Shawnee Mall, Oklahoma Baptist University, housing complexes, and neighborhoods.

We’re told nearly 2,000 Shawnee structures were marked as damaged or destroyed during an initial assessment.

“We started working before, watching the storm come in. … It is not often, if hardly ever, that you see a tornado that travels to the northwest,” Citizen Potawatomi Nation Emergency Management Director Tim Zientek said.

Zientek said they started setting off sirens around 7 p.m. The Shawnee tornado likely began Northwest of Tecumseh around 9:41 p.m.

A Red Cross shelter was opened at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Reunion Halls at 1702 S Gordon Cooper Drive in Shawnee following the storms and the Infant Crisis Services BabyMobile was present there on Friday. 

More than 20 emergency management units and agencies assisted overnight storm operations in the area, including the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, Choctaw Nation, and Chickasaw Nation emergency services mobile command units, all of which participate in the Intertribal Emergency Management Coalition. 

Muscogee Nation Arbor Care services also assisted in clearing the roads.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation Workforce Development & Social Services said they are ready to assist any members of federally recognized tribes who live in Cleveland, Lincoln, Oklahoma, Payne, Pottawatomie, or Seminole counties (the five Oklahoma counties impacted hardest by tornadoes and severe weather).  Tribal members needing assistance following the storms are asked to call 405-878-3854.

Rep. Dell Kerbs (R-Shawnee) thanked OG&E technicians for restoring electricity to affected customers, law enforcement and volunteers from neighboring towns who showed up to help, and representatives from numerous tribal nations who are aiding with clean-up efforts and debris removal.

“The destruction suffered in Shawnee and the surrounding community on Wednesday was devastating,” Kerbs said. “Local and state resources are available for those affected by Wednesday’s severe weather, and I hope everybody finds the support they need.”

Attorney General Of Oklahoma Gentner Drummond said the Emergency Price Stabilization Act was put in effect in Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie Counties.

The law prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent for the price of goods and services and helps protect citizens from unfair price hikes. 

Drummond said citizens should be on the lookout for contractor fraud in these areas and to report suspected fraud by calling toll free 833-681-1895.


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