The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 26, 2009

Tornado hits in northern Enid, Expo Center damaged

Staff reports

Emergency responders reported significant damage in the North Enid area after a tornado struck the north side of town shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday.

In addition, there was extensive damage reported to a large section of the roof at Garfield County Expo Center. At 11 p.m. Garfield County Commissioners declared the building unsafe and were not allowing anyone but emergency personnel and county officials in the building.

The Enid Home Show, which was to open again today at the Expo Center, has been canceled due to significant damage to booths and displays. Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported a number of power lines down in the area as well.

“It’s gone,” said Janelle Martin, after surveying the damage to booths and displays at the Enid Home Show.

She is a representative with Production Group LLC, which was putting on the three-day event.

“Please pray for my vendors.”

She said many of the vendors at the show were being taken care of and offered hotel rooms for the night.

As many as 40 vendors had trailers in the Expo Center parking lot, but they were all moved into a secure area of the Expo Center as the storm neared.

Enid Police Department Capt. Dean Grassino said they had unconfirmed reports of people in two homes trapped, and emergency responders were conducting search-and-rescue operations, going door to door in the area.

However, North Enid Mayor Matt Miller later said they had done a survey and reported there were no injures, but damage was being seen, particularly along North 4th, including a number of power lines down. North Enid Police Chief Martin Schubert also confirmed a number of trees and limbs downed, along with damage to roofs, windows and fences. A shooting club and car wash sustained significant damage.

High winds and flying debris damaged many of the implements at P&K; Equipment, 4121 N. U.S. 81 Bypass, and caused minor building damage.

“We had significant wind,” said manager Drew Combs. “We had a couple of implements tipped over, upset, and a small trailer parked on the east side of the building moved over the fence and across the road onto the west side.” A grain drill and other smaller pieces of equipment were moved around by “winds that you’d typically associate with a tornado,” he said.

About 40 percent of the farm implements parked at the North Enid sales lot received at least glass damage, Combs estimated.

P&K; building damage included two overhead doors and windows.

Tornado sirens sounded in Enid when the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the northwestern portions of Enid. Sirens were sounded in Enid about 9:50 p.m. and for Quail Meadows at 10 p.m.

OG&E; Electrical Services reported at least 1,600 residences were without power in the Enid area at 11 p.m.

Several lowerings were observed by Garfield County Emergency Management storm spotters, and golfball-size hail was reported at Oklahoma 45 and Cleveland, along with torrential rain. Spotters continued to track a wall cloud as it moved east northeast across the northern portions of Enid.

Spotters initially reported seeing power flashes in the area of Purdue and Cleveland and Garfield County Emergency Management reported a tornado on the ground at Purdue and Cleveland and in the area of the Expo Center.

Emergency responders from across Garfield County responded to the area, and a central command post for operations had been set up in the parking lot at the Expo Center.