"We're still alive... everything in there we can replace" - KOAM TV 7

EF-1 tornado confirmed; flooding displaces other families

Welch resident: "We're still alive... everything in there we can replace"


Five families are displaced after a tornado and heavy flooding take their toll in Oklahoma.

"We're still alive," says Welch, Oklahoma resident Dale Charles.  "Everything in there we can replace."

The storm pounded down on the city of Welch in the early morning hours.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that most of the damage which took place in the northern part of Welch, Oklahoma was in fact caused by an EF-1 tornado.

Families are now left picking up the pieces but they all agree things could have been a lot worse.

"At approximately 1:30 this morning, we were watching the storm, we felt what we thought was a straight line wind off the bow echo and four or five minutes later, we got a call that this house behind us had been hit," says Morris Bluejacket, the Craig County Emergency Management Director.

It's been an emotional experience for Charles after witnessing the tornado rip apart his home of 20 years.

"I got within a quarter mile of the house when I seen the bar go across the road and all the tin and stuff started blowing," says Charles.

He pulled up just at the storm hit, his wife was trapped inside.

"That whole window that was on the north side blew right on top of her and blew her across the - across the room," Charles says.

Fortunately, she walked away with minor injuries.

So did Kelly Walker and her two small children after the wall of the bedroom they were sleeping in was completely blown off.

"God was watching over us," Walker says.

High waters caused by heavy rains flooded three other homes trapping more than 15 people.  All were rescued by boat and the American Red Cross is now on hand to help with immediate recovery.

"Make sure just that their basic needs are met," says Michelle Fraley of the American Red Cross.  "If they have medications that were destroyed or have, you know, eye glasses, false teeth, things like that - breathing machines.  Things like that that really affect their quality of life."

Emergency management crews will spend the next few days helping clean up the debris that's been littered across parts of Welch.

Power has already been restored to all residents.  Again, the best news in all of this is that there was no loss of life and no one was seriously injured.

Strong winds also caused some damage in Ottawa County.  Trees were knocked down, roofs ripped apart and windows broken.

Crews spent the morning working to restore power for residents living in a rural part of Miami.

One resident recalls hearing the destruction.

"It was about 1:00 or 1:30, we got a little schnauzer, he was just raising lots all kinds of cane, about 10 seconds later a limb came through the bedroom window," says Miami resident Preston Collins.

Collins and other residents throughout northeast Oklahoma are awaiting assessments from their insurance adjusters to determine exactly how much damage was done.

The Walkers and the Charles have the support of the Welch community and though their homes are torn apart they can't help but feel fortunate.


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