Twisters batter Oklahoma, killing 1, injuring 21, wrecking homes

This post has been updated, as indicated below.

A series of tornadoes raked a broad swath of the Midwest on Sunday, destroying homes and a trailer park in Oklahoma, killing one person and injuring at least 21 others, officials said.

As night fell, rescuers with flashlights picked through the rubble of a trailer park in Shawnee, Okla., that was heavily damaged in the storm, as were a number of homes across the state.

[Updated, May 19, 9:36 p.m.: The Pottawatomie County sheriff's office said late Sunday that one body had been found at the trailer park, the Associated Press reported.] 

James Hoke's mobile home was among those ruined at the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park. When he and his family emerged from a storm cellar, their home had vanished.

“It took a dead hit,” Hoke told the Associated Press.

Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for 16 counties due to  tornadoes, winds, flooding and hail. The line of storms stretched from Texas to Minnesota and appeared to hit Oklahoma hardest.

“Our hearts and prayers are with those Oklahomans who have been affected by today's severe weather," Fallin said in an evening statement.

Tornadoes and heavy storms also swept across rural Kansas and Iowa, knocking down trees and power lines and triggering flash floods.

One tornado touched down just southwest of Wichita, Kan., where National Weather Service meteorologists briefly had to take shelter. The twister largely spared the city.

Graduation ceremonies in some areas were disrupted as attendees took shelter from the storms, which were headed north and east.

In Oklahoma, damage was reported in or around the communities of Bethel Acres, Carney, Edmond, Twin Lakes and Wellston.

Northwest of Shawnee, local media captured footage of at least two tractor-trailers flipped over on a highway overpass. At least one of the trucks fell off the overpass and smashed onto the road below.

Jerry Lojka, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, told the Los Angeles Times that four people were injured on the highway in Potowattamie County and four more were hurt in Lincoln County.

An unknown number of people were also injured in Bethel Acres, he said.

Another spokesperson for the department, Keli Cain, told the AP that 21 people had sought hospital treatment for their injuries.

Casabe Mathe of Edmond said he found part of his neighbor's fence in his swimming pool. 

"When I first drove into the neighborhood, I didn't see any major damage until I pulled into the front of my house," Mathe told the Associated Press. "My reaction was: I hope insurance pays for the cleaning.

"I typically have two trash cans, and now I have five in my driveway."


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