A large tornado tore through Oklahoma late Saturday, killing at least two people and leaving a lengthy path of rubble and debris, a decimated motel, overturned cars and downed streetlights.
The storm struck the city of El Reno, 25 miles west of Oklahoma City, where a Sunday-morning search for dozens of unaccounted-for individuals was underway.
The tornado ripped through the American Budget Value Inn, causing the second story to collapse, and the Skyview Estates mobile home park, which CBS News reported housed 88 mobile homes.
“We have all hands on deck,” White said. “We have absolutely experienced a traumatic event.”
As of Sunday morning, a survey team for the National Weather Service had found EF-2 damage, though the survey was expected to continue into the afternoon. Tornadoes with an EF-2 rating contain winds of approximately 110 to 135 mph.
In an interview with the AP, Tweety Garrison, 63, described the harrowing five to 10 minutes during which the tornado ripped through the Oklahoma town. She and her family were inside their mobile home when the twister touched down. It flipped her neighbor’s trailer onto her own roof.
“We’re trapped,” Garrison said, recalling a phone call to her 32-year-old son for help. After “clearing a path” and removing “a portion of an outside wall,” Garrison’s son was able to rescue his mother and four others, the AP reported.
El Reno, with a population of more than 19,000, like other towns and cities in other parts of the Southern Plains and Midwest, has endured a week of powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods; the AP reported that at least nine deaths have been attributed to the severe weather across multiple states.
Since Monday, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has received more than 150 tornado reports.
Richard Stephens, police chief in the nearby town of Union City, warned locals that there was a “very dangerous situation tonight in El Reno. Severe damage with serious injuries and fatalities involved.”
“This is an unfortunate example of just how quickly these types of storms can develop from a simple thunderstorm into a deadly supercell tornado,” Stephens said in a statement on Facebook. “Please pray for those effected by these storms as well as the emergency services workers assisting in this ongoing rescue.”
This is El Reno’s second tornado tragedy in the last six years. On May 31, 2013, 18 people, including four storm chasers, were killed by a twister that measured 2.6 miles across, the widest ever recorded on the planet. That storm packed 300 mph winds.