Monday, May 1, 2017

Saturday Tornado Causes Damage Around County

Tree blown down near Akins.

Damage to fence at 
Sallisaw Sports Complex.

Sequoyah County was hit by an EF1 tornado Saturday, the National Weather Service has confirmed, but was not subjected to the massive damage often associated with tornados, heavy winds and rain. Most of the damage was to the county roads.

Steve Rutherford, Sequoyah County Emergency Management director, said Monday he and the Sequoyah County Commissioners were still working on collecting road damage reports and on a dollar damage estimate. 

If road damages add up to $151,000 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) steps in to help pay for repairs and rebuilding.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Saturday declared a state of emergency for all 77 Oklahoma counties due to severe storms, flooding, winds, tornadoes and snow impacting the state. That opens the door for FEMA assistance. Fallin’s executive order also allows state agencies to make emergency purchases related to disaster relief and preparedness.

But Rutherford said Sequoyah County was lucky.

“We were blessed,” he said. “It could have been much worse.”

Rutherford said the tornado was spotted at 4:18 p.m. Saturday one mile southeast of Sallisaw. The tornado hit the golf course, where it downed trees, then the railroad track where it left trees across the track. It then went on to the Sallisaw Sports Complex where a fence was reported downed. Rutherford said the EF1 then continued northeast along Redwood Street and into the Akins area. The tornado knocked down trees, outbuildings and damaged roofs and shingles.

“But we had no injuries and no homes were damaged,” Rutherford said.

An EF1 tornado has winds of 86 to 110 miles per hour, he explained.

The main damage in Sequoyah County was to roads, Rutherford said, although only one road was reported closed – Cato Creek Road on Tenkiller Lake. The U.S. Corps of Engineers reported most camping areas at the lake are under water and also closed.

Rutherford reported the stormy weather dropped 5 inches of rain on Gore, 2.16 inches of rain in Sallisaw, 7.62 inches of rain in Webbers Falls and 3.6 inches of rain in Cookson.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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