Residents recall tornadic storm that took 2 lives, destroyed and damaged homes
You can help by donating or volunteering
(KSLA) — Parts of the ArkLaTex are recovering after experiencing deadly tornadoes and other severe weather Friday.
There were two deaths, lots of injuries and damage reported.
It made for a rough weekend for Southern Oklahoma, East Texas and other areas starting Friday evening when severe storms rolled through. One Texas resident and an Oklahoma resident were reported dead. Tornadoes touched down throughout parts of the ArkLaTex.
[► RELATED: NWS confirms at least 4 tornadoes hit parts of Texas, Oklahoma]
Starting in Bowie County, Texas, New Boston was hit hard and left with significant damage.
No serious injuries were reported, but damage is prominent throughout the area.
“You could hear things starting to hit the house and our ears popped,” resident Misty Roberts recalled. “And I just told them to cover their heads up. And we prayed out loud for God to protect us.
“And it seemed like a long time for it to pass over us. It was very loud. You could feel the house when it left.”
[► RELATED: National Weather Service surveys shed light on path, strength of East Texas tornadoes]
The American Red Cross told KSLA News 12 that one person died in Idabel, Okla., seven people were hurt and almost 200 buildings — mostly residences — were damaged.
“I was here with my two nieces and nephews like 10 minutes prior to the tornado hitting. But they were getting scared, so I just went to my Mom’s house in Broken Bow,” Idabel resident Leslie DeJesus said. ”And we were in the bathtub hiding and literally the tree fell two minutes later right in the bathtub.”
Morris County Judge Doug Reeder confirmed one death and one injury.
But it was the small town of Hughes Springs, Texas, where most of the damaged homes and structures were found in the storm’s aftermath.
“Before we could get it locked down, it hit,” one Hughes Springs resident said. “And then I had to shove my wife down in the floor. And then, uh, we went to tumbling and you could see what the end result was.”
When KSLA News 12 last checked Sunday, the massive tornado had left a 21-mile trail throughout Lamar County and caused more than 10 injuries and the destruction of more than 50 homes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard my Dad weep or get choked up,” Lamar County resident Coyden Harmon said. “But when he called me, he said ‘It’s gone. It’s all gone.’ You could hear it in his voice that he was emotional. We’re just lucky that nobody got injured. Things can get replaced; people can’t.”
[► RELATED: Communities assess damage after severe storms rip through ArkLaTex; 2 deaths confirmed]
Organizations from all over, like the American Red Cross, are working together to help these communities get back on their feet.
Sequel Care 411 S. Central Ave. in Idabel is accepting donations for tornado victims and has items to give to tornado victims, including food, blankets, other bedding, clothing and shoes. Those who need help and those who want to help should call Sequel Care at 580.286.5045.
“We have a shelter open at Bypass Christian Church. We’ve also got distribution of emergency supplies. We’ve got several trucks that are out on the street, and they’re distributing tarps, rakes and shovels, gloves, trash bags,” an American Red Cross spokeswoman said.
“And, of course, we have water and snacks that are being distributed among those communities. Texas has an operation open as well that’s supporting along those areas, and they’re doing the same thing that we’re doing.”
The Red Cross’ Texas operation also is providing assistance to areas affected in Arkansas.
A spokeswoman for the organization told KSLA News 12 that they want to make sure everyone’s physical and mental health are where they need to be.
“We also do have health services and mental health on the ground, so we’re able to provide medications that were lost or people with health issues, you know, people with oxygen and their electricity hasn’t come back on.
And they tell KSLA News 12 that their efforts have been successful so far.
“We’ve helped probably most of the families that are affected. As soon as we get damage assessment done and we’re approved for financial, then we will be able to assist them financially as well.”
The Red Cross is teaming up with other nonprofits along the way.
“We’re working with some of our partners like The Salvation Army who are able to help canteen and feed in the area.”
The American Red Cross’ Kansas/Oklahoma Region says:
► It has distributed several cases of water and more than 600 items like tarps, rakes, shovels and cleanup kits to help people who are starting to clean up after the tornado.
“We are getting more of these supplies from our warehouse in McAlester to continue bringing them to affected areas,” spokesman Matt Trotter said.
► Three teams of Red Cross volunteers have assessed damage to 168 homes in Idabel. Of those homes, six had been destroyed and 64 sustained major damage.
The teams’ work in McCurtain County, Okla., is about 70% complete, Trotter said. They plan to cover Pickens, Broken Bow and Eagletown on Monday, Nov. 7.
► More than 2,500 people still are without power. So the Red Cross is reminding people in the affected areas to:
- Eat fresh, perishable foods first.
- Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer, thus preserving cool temperatures. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
- Use coolers with ice if necessary. Measure the food temperature in your refrigerator and freezer with a thermometer. Throw out food that has been warmer than 40 degrees F.
- Decide if you need to stay or go. Evacuate if your home is too hot or too cold, or if you have medical devices that need power.
Residents in need of assistance are encouraged to call the Red Cross toll-free at (800) RED CROSS.
YOU CAN HELP
• You can make a financial contribution to the American Red Cross by visiting redcross.org/donate, calling toll-free at 1-800-HELP NOW or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to Disaster Relief.
• People also can help by becoming a Red Cross volunteer in their community. “We need people willing to put their compassion into action and respond to incidents like home fires, especially while other volunteers are helping people after disasters like the Idabel tornado or Hurricane Ian.” Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more.
[► RELATED: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt visits Idabel after storm ravages area]
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