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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Two fatalities confirmed from Sunday's tornado

  • Sunday's tornado left a path of destruction in Pottawatomie County and claimed the lives of Glen Irish, 79, and Billy Hutchinson, 76, officials confirmed Monday.
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  • Sunday's tornado left a path of destruction in Pottawatomie County and claimed the lives of Glen Irish, 79, and Billy Hutchinson, 76, officials confirmed Monday.
    The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed Irish was found on a street in the Steelman Estates mobile home park, located at SH 102 and Independence Street.
    The second tornado victim was found in an overturned vehicle and transported to Norman Regional Hospital with unspecified injuries, where he died.
    As a monstrous and deadly tornado ravaged the Moore and Oklahoma City area Monday, preliminary damage assessments for Sunday's deadly storms in Pottawatomie County were coming to light, revealing the two deaths along with 10 people who were injured.
    Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management Director Don Lynch reported assessments so far reveal 89 homes were destroyed in Pottawatomie County Sunday, with 72 structures sustaining minor damage and 29 structures reported major damage.
    With two more housing additions to survey along with some isolated areas, the numbers of damaged or destroyed structures could rise.
    Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth and deputies were in Steelman Estates Monday as many residents sifted through debris there trying to find remnants of their belongings.
    "You can see where there's absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up," Booth said. "It's pretty bad. It's pretty much wiped out."
    James Hoke, who lived with his wife and two children in Steelman Estates, said the family went into their storm cellar as the storm approached. When they came out, their mobile home had vanished.
    As storms formed in Oklahoma City and were expected again in Pottawatomie County, Booth and his deputies had everyone evacuate Steelman Estates for their safety.
    District 1 Pottawatomie County Commissioner Melissa Dennis, who responded to assist in many of the devastated areas, said the damage was widespread.
    "With such a path, we're fortunate we didn't have more lives lost," Dennis said.
    Monday morning, Dennis took Congressman James Lankford on a quick tour of the Pottawatomie County damage. In addition, Governor Mary Fallin, State Insurance Commissioner John Doak, State Senators Harry Coates and Ron Sharp, and State Representatives Justin Wood and Josh Cockroft also have toured the most heavily damaged areas.
    Shawnee Mayor Wes Mainord and the Board of Pottawatomie County Commissioners have signed Declarations of Emergency for Shawnee and Pottawatomie County and Governor Mary Fallin also has declared a State of Emergency for Pottawatomie County.
    Lynch said this declaration triggers the "price gouging" statute as well as setting the stage for response and recovery operations.
    As homeowners began picking up the pieces and clean up and recovery efforts began Monday, Lynch reported that city of Shawnee Street crews have cleared debris and trees from the roads in and around the Shawnee Twin Lakes and Pottawatomie County Road Crews have worked to clear debris in the areas impacted in the county.
    Page 2 of 3 - District 2 Pottawatomie County Commissioner Randy Thomas offered his condolences and prayers to all those affected by the storms as all three commissioners and their crews worked together Monday.
    Within an hour of the tornadoes touching down and wreaking havoc in Pottawatomie County, Thomas said he has road crews out in the Steelman Estates additions to begin clearing roadway for search crews there. That area, where 30-35 of the destroyed homes were reported, was completely devastated by the storm.
    With the relief and recovery process ongoing, the following information is provided:
    • The American Red Cross has established a shelter at the Shawnee High School Athletic Facility, where 11 persons registered on Sunday night, with two staying overnight at the shelter.
    • The Pottawatomie County Health Department has established an immunization trailer in the parking lot of the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center, 1700 W. Independence Street, to distribute free tetanus shots to those who need them. There also are plans to send two teams into the field today.
    • Breakfast, lunch and dinner is now available at the Expo Center. The Oklahoma Baptist General Convention disaster relief teams are performing mass feeding operations in conjunction with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army's mobile canteen units working in the field.
    • Insurance Commissioner Doak has established a staging area for insurance companies at the Expo Center for insurance carriers to meet with clients whose property was damaged.
    • The Baptist Convention also has chain saw crews to assist senior citizens or economically disadvantaged persons with tree debris removal. These teams may be accessed by calling 405-443-7583, 405-388-6912, or 405-415-5261.
    • Oklahoma Baptist University is offering the use of dorms for displaced persons during the summer break.
    • The Shawnee Police Animal Shelter has limited space available for pets that have been displaced from their owners because of the storm. The Shelter may be contacted at 405-878-1531.
    • The Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Absentee Shawnee Tribe, and Kickapoo Tribe have been providing services to member families affected by the disaster as well as assisting with needs of other families affected.
    Lynch said they have been bombarded with calls from individuals, businesses, and organizations offering to help. And while he said they appreciate the generous outpouring of support, nothing is needed for the immediate response effort, so he said those who would like to contribute to the relief can best help right now by donating money to a reputable charitable organization of their choice.
    "We are working to establish a hotline where individuals who wish to volunteer or contribute items can be matched with those in need," Lynch said, and hopes to announce that today.
    Page 3 of 3 - In the meantime, persons who want to offer assistance can call the Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management office at 405-878-1650 or the Shawnee Fire Department at 405-878-1671.
    With storms affecting such a wide area in central Oklahoma, the American Red Cross also urges people who haven't been able to contact loved ones to log onto www.safeandwell.org.
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