The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

May 20, 2013

Tornadoes slam Plains, Midwest; 1 dead in Okla.

SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — When Lindsay Carter heard on the radio that a violent storm was approaching her rural Oklahoma neighborhood, she gathered her belongings and fled. When she returned, there was little left of the community Carter had called home.

Several tornadoes struck parts of the nation's midsection Sunday, concentrating damage in central Oklahoma and Wichita, Kan. One person was killed near Shawnee, Okla., and 21 injuries were reported throughout the state.

The National Weather Service was forecasting more of the same for the area — including Oklahoma City and Tulsa — Monday afternoon and evening, warning of the possibility of tornadoes and baseball-sized hail.

The worst of the damage Sunday appeared to be at the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park, located near Shawnee among gently rolling hills about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

"It took a dead hit," resident James Hoke said. Emerging from a storm cellar where he sought refuge with his wife and two children, Hoke found that their mobile home had vanished. "Everything is gone."

Hoke said he started trying to help neighbors and found his wife's father covered in rubble.

"My father-in-law was buried under the house. We had to pull Sheetrock off of him," Hoke said.

Forecasters had been warning of bad weather since Wednesday and on Sunday said conditions had ripened for powerful tornadoes. Wall-to-wall broadcasts of storm information spread the word Sunday, leaving Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth grateful.

"There was a possibility a lot more people could have been injured," Booth said. "This is the worst I've seen in Pottawatomie County in my 25 years of law enforcement."

Carter heard on the radio that a storm that originated southwest of Oklahoma City was headed toward Shawnee.

"We got in the truck and left," Carter said. With upward of 30 minutes' notice for Pottawatomie County, Carter had time to leave one of the few frame homes in Steelman Estates — and most of her house was intact when she returned.

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