Oklahoma tornadoes: At least 4 killed, governor issues state of emergency

The line of storms that brought a risk of severe weather to North Texas left behind a large trail of damage in Oklahoma.

At least 17 tornadoes touched down late Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning. When the sun rose, people began to comb through the damage.

At least four people were killed, including a child.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt issued an executive order Sunday declaring a state of emergency in 12 counties due to the fallout from the severe weather as crews worked to clear debris and assess damage from the severe storms that downed power lines. Later in the day, he toured the southern Oklahoma city of Sulphur, where some buildings were reduced to piles of rubble.

The National Weather Service confirmed at least EF-3 tornadoes touched down in the cities of Sulphur and Marietta. The damage survey will check to see if that rating goes higher.

Stitt said one of the victims was found in the bar in Sulphur, where about 20 people were sheltering inside when the storm hit. The injured were taken to the hospital and released.

"You just can’t believe the destruction," Stitt said. "It seems like every business downtown has been destroyed."

Stitt said about 30 people were injured in Sulphur alone.

"The loss of life is the most precious thing and that's what weighs so heavy on my heart this morning. Everything else can be rebuilt, but we can't restore life and the wonderful Oklahomans we've lost in this storm," said State Rep. Kevin McCall, who represents Sulphur.

Businesses like Gary Mensch's furniture store were gone overnight.

"It’s heartbreaking. So last night I was in the cellar and I had this moment where I look across, and I see my kids and my wife and I know everyone’s safe and okay. Deep inside it was hurting because I knew what was happening on the other end of town," said Mensch.  

He showed our FOX 4 crew the damage inside the store and what's left of the warehouse.

"Pretty much all of this ruined, and it sucks because it looks salvageable, but it’s really not," said Mensch. "As you can tell man, there’s nothing left."  

Mensch owned JJ's Furniture for almost 25 years and is trying to remain positive.

"It’s just a process and I’m taking it minute by minute." he said.

Crews on the ground in Sulphur are working to clear the debris and assess damage.

A tornado ripped through Holdenville, a town of about 5,000 people, late Saturday, killing two people, and injuring four others, Hughes County Emergency Medical Services said in a statement Sunday.

A hospital was damaged in Marietta, according to the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management, which also said that Interstate 35 was closed at the border with Texas "due to overturned vehicles and powerlines across the highway."

FOX 4 crews made the trip to Marietta to survey the damage.

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Geovanny Carreon was in his car on I-35 in Marietta when the tornado came through.

He pulled over and was blown across the highway by the storm.

"All I remember is flipping over like 5 times," Carreon said. "It's a miracle that I survived."

Carreon said he went to the hospital with facial injuries, but was otherwise okay.

He came back to the area to try to find items that were left behind. like his phone.

Thousands of customers are still without power after the storms came through, according to the Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company.

Roads were also shut down due to damage from the storms.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management released a long list of damage reports in the state as of 1:30 a.m.

The team is working to make sure people have what they need.

"Today our focus is on really understanding search and rescue efforts, making sure capabilities are there, making sure people have generator power, a safe place to go and then starting to look forward on how we help a place like this rebuild," said Annie Mack Vest with the Oklahoma DEM.

25 families stayed in the Red Cross shelter on Saturday night. That number is expected to grow.

The state's emergency management is still gathering injury reports as well, so those numbers could grow as well.

Oklahoma Tornado Damage Reports

  • Ardmore Emergency Management reports damage and power outages in Ardmore. Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) reports injuries and power lines down in Carter County at the Flying J Truck Stop on Michelin Road. Plain View School was also damaged in the storms.
  • Cotton County Emergency Management reports three to five homes damaged in the Devol area. Numerous trees are down. One storm-related vehicle accident is also reported.
  • Duncan Emergency Management reports roadway flooding in the City of Duncan. Stephens County Emergency Management reports Clarity Creek in Duncan is close to overflowing.
  • Garfield County Emergency Management reports two homes damaged in the Hillsdale area.
  • Grant County Emergency Management reports numerous trees damaged or down.
  • Hughes County Emergency Management reports 14 homes are damaged or destroyed in Holdenville. Highway 9 is blocked due to debris in the roadway. Muscogee Creek Nation is assisting with debris clearing and searching for area of impact. Seminole and Seminole County Emergency Management and Fire and Sheriff are providing command support. Oklahoma City Task Force One will respond Sunday for Search and Rescue support.
  • Kay County Emergency Management reports three to four structures were damaged by storms earlier this evening northwest of Newkirk. Numerous trees and power poles were down. Two vehicle accidents were a result of the storms. Heavy rain also caused flooding on area roads.
  • Lincoln County Emergency Management reports debris and damage in the Davenport and Sparks areas.
  • Love County Emergency Management reports damages in and around Marietta including damage to the Marietta Hospital. Hospital patients took shelter during the storms and no injuries in the hospital are reported. I-35 north is closed at the Texas State Line due to overturned vehicles and powerlines across the highway. The Chickasaw Nation is providing incident support in Marietta.
  • Marlow Emergency Management reports roadway flooding on Highway 81 and E. Apache Ave.
  • McClain County Emergency Management reports damage west of Goldsby along Highway 74B.
  • Midwest City Emergency Management reports at least one structure damaged and multiple powerlines and limbs down.
  • Murray County Emergency Management reports significant damage in Sulphur and numerous injuries. Search and rescue is ongoing at this time. OHP reports troopers are responding to apartments on Woodruff where tornado damage occurred. US-177 approximately 2 miles north of Sulphur is closed due to flooding.
  • Okmulgee County Emergency Management reports the Town of Morris has multiple power lines and power poles down. Search and rescue is ongoing and the county is clearing debris from the roadways.
  • Payne County Emergency Management reports damage to trees and outbuildings near Lone Chimney.
  • Tillman County Emergency Management reports flash flooding north of Grandfield. Numerous powerlines are down. 
  • Midwest City Emergency Management reports at least one structure damaged and multiple powerlines and limbs down.
  • Payne County Emergency Management reports damage to trees and outbuildings near Lone Chimney.
  • Tillman County Emergency Management reports flash flooding north of Grandfield. Numerous powerlines are down.

The Associated Press contributed to this report