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The Shawnee News-Star
  • 93 structures destroyed: Tornado clean up continues in Pottawatomie County

  • As sounds of chainsaws and heavy equipment continued in Pottawatomie County areas affected by Sunday's tornado, damage assessment numbers increased Tuesday to 93 homes and structures destroyed and 113 sustaining damage.
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  • As sounds of chainsaws and heavy equipment continued in Pottawatomie County areas affected by Sunday's tornado, damage assessment numbers increased Tuesday to 93 homes and structures destroyed and 113 sustaining damage.
    Don Lynch, Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management Director, said several isolated areas and two more neighborhoods were checked for damage Tuesday, where destroyed structures rose by four from the day before.
    The number of homes with damage also increased. There are now 82 structures with minor damage and 31 with major damages, he reported.
    The tornado that rumbled through late Sunday afternoon touched town west of Shawnee Twin Lakes and carved a northeastern path over to U.S. 177 and Interstate 40 and continue north-northeast from there.
    Lynch said officials are working on plotting data points on maps to see if any areas remain unsurveyed.
    As people continued to clean-up debris despite nails and other hazards, Pottawatomie County Health Department gave 95 Tetanus shots on Tuesday and strike teams will go in the field today, weather permitting, Lynch said.
    Pottawatomie County Undersheriff Travis Palmer said deputies opened up the restricted Steelman Estates addition Tuesday. That addition, located at SH 102 and Independence, was leveled by the storm, with two fatalities reported there.
    More heavy equipment was brought in to begin moving bigger debris now that residents have sifted through the remains in search of family treasures.
    "People have about everything they can get," Palmer said.
    During a sweep of that area after the storm, Palmer said deputies did find some weapons, including firearms and knives, and collected those for safekeeping.
    Many photographs found here and there amongst the debris also were gathered up, Palmer said, and deputies hope to reunite those photographs, as well as all the weapons, with the rightful owners. Those items were taken to the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office, where Lt. Joe McGirt can be contacted for more information.
    As storm clean up continues in many areas around Shawnee Twin Lakes and through the Bethel and Dale areas, Palmer said sightseers with no business in tornado-damaged areas are still causing some problems for recovery and clean up crews.
    "Sightseers are making it more difficult," Palmer said, concerned with all the traffic. "Most are just gawkers. I know everybody wants to see what happened, but it makes it difficult."
    Sheriff Mike Booth said those affected by the storm also want to safeguard their belongings.
    "Homeowners are sensitive to their property…they had everything destroyed and they want to protect what's left," Booth said.
    Deputies have been stationed in many of the hard-hit areas as clean up continues.
    Lynch said the City of Shawnee and Pottawatomie County officials have agreed to a plan to work together to establish a disposal site for tree limb debris.
    Page 2 of 2 - The site will require permitting from the State of Oklahoma, as soon as the facility is permitted and prepared to receive debris, more instructions and information will be released. Both the city of Shawnee and Pottawatomie County Commissioners have formulated plans for debris removal from street and road rights of way as well.
    With tornado-damaged areas in Shawnee and the Moore and Oklahoma City area also devastated, President Barrack Obama has declared a disaster in Oklahoma.
    President Obama declared Pottawatomie County a disaster area and authorized Individual and Family assistance for citizens affected by the disaster. Individuals and Families needing assistance may call toll free 1-800-621-FEMA (6623) or go on line to www.disasterassistance.gov to register. A FEMA mobile disaster recovery center trailer is parked at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition (EXPO) Center overnight and will be setup on Wednesday to begin operations.
    The President also signed a declaration for Public Assistance to help the county and city governments with the cost of emergency protective measures and debris removal.
     
    With the local relief and recovery process ongoing, the following information is provided:
    • The American Red Cross is operating a shelter at the Shawnee High School Athletic Facility, 1001 N. Kennedy. Lynch said six persons spent Monday night at shelter, where BCI Broadband set up a communications cafe at the shelter with several laptops, wifi internet, landline phones, and a large screen TV.
    • Oklahoma Baptist General Convention/American Red Cross/The Salvation Army mass care services continued delivery of meals, snacks, bottled water and Gatorade in the disaster area Tuesday.
    • Gordon Cooper Technology Center will be hosting safety training for any and all clean up workers at the Lakeview Church of Christ at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. today. In addition to some basic safety training, they will have safety glasses, hearing protection, and other safety equipment available to take and use for all people involved in the clean up. The church is located on SH 102 about one mile south of Independence Street
    • The Oklahoma Insurance Department Service Center continues its operations 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.
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