Twisters rip NE Oklahoma

Tornadoes ripped through northeastern Oklahoma injuring three people and causing extensive property damage.

BY PJ HELLER | DEWEY, Okla. | April 20, 2003

"We've got a lot of structural damage."

—Sheriff Pat Ballard, Washington County

Tornadoes ripped through northeastern Oklahoma Saturday evening, injuring three people and causing extensive property damage, authorities reported.

One tornado, classified by the National Weather Service in Tulsa as an F2 on the Fujita scale, cut a wide swath north of Dewey in Washington County. Dewey is located in northeast Oklahoma near the Kansas border.

On Monday, NWS meteorologists had confirmed two other tornados: an F1 near Welty in Okfuskee County and an F0 near Ralston in Osage County.

There were also unconfirmed reports of a possible tornado in Nowata County, where trees were downed and several homes were damaged. Initial unconfirmed reports said as many as three tornadoes were on the ground simultaneously in Washington County.

An area between five and nine square miles was affected, according to Linda Herndon of the Washington County Civil Emergency Management Office.

"Our preliminary estimate is there were between 10 and 30 homes damaged," she said.

Two of the people injured were in their mobile home when the storm hit. One suffered minor injuries, the other was hospitalized. A third person was reported injured but the extent of injuries was not known.

Other mobile homes in Washington County were reported damaged or destroyed. Damage was also reported to homes, barns and other structures.

"We've got a lot of structural damage," said Washington County Sheriff Pat Ballard.

The storm briefly knocked out power to parts of Washington County.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter at Dewey High School for residents affected by the tornado.

On Easter Sunday, residents were picking up the pieces and salvaging what they could.

"Basically, we're just trying to clean out what we can salvage," said Charles Rolph, who was having a children's birthday party at his home when the twister hit, causing extensive damage. "Anything, pictures, papers, valuables, anything that's salvageable."

Meteorologists said that the majority of tornadoes in Oklahoma occur in April, May and June.

Saturday's tornado was part of a wider storm system that struck the state with high winds, hail and heavy rain.

DNN reporter Travis Dunn contributed to this story.

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