In the Midwest, strong spring storm generates dozens of tornadoes

Associated Press • Mar 30, 2007 at 11:12 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY - The violent storm system blamed for four deaths in three states flooded parts of North Texas as it moved eastward, stranding drivers in high water and forcing dozens of elderly people to evacuate an assisted living center.

Many smaller roads in the area were still closed Friday morning.

"It fell hard and fast," said Corsicana police Sgt. Jimmie Hensley. "We had a lot of street flooding, intersections flooded. We had to rescue several people from their cars."

Businesses in the town flooded as up to 7 inches of rain fell in the area. About 60 elderly residents from an assisted living center were taken to a church on higher ground for safety, said Eric Meyers, Navarro County Emergency Management coordinator.

The spring storm unleashed more than 65 tornadoes in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska on Wednesday and Thursday, the National Weather Service said. A twister Thursday afternoon in Oklahoma City injured at least five people - two of them critically.

Joyce Eells, who lives in far northwestern Oklahoma City, said the tornado took off most of the roof of her home, but she counted herself lucky that nobody was home when the storm hit.

"All the important things are OK. My husband and family are OK. That's the important stuff," Eells said. "My husband's words when he saw the damage were: ‘I don't think we'll be staying here for a while."

A 7-year-old Oklahoma girl was also treated at a hospital for cuts Thursday, and two people were injured when a van was thrown from the Kilpatrick Turnpike into a concrete culvert by the storms, said Oklahoma City Deputy Fire Chief Tony Young.

On Wednesday, the storm system was blamed for four deaths in Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas.

Vance and Barbra Woodbury were killed when a twister blew apart their home near the Oklahoma Panhandle community of Elmwood. In the Texas Panhandle, Monte Ford, 53, was thrown from his trailer after high winds rolled it near an oilfield.

In the hard hit town of Holly, Colo., Rosemary Rosales, 28, died after a tornado as wide as two football fields flung her from her home into a nearby tree. Her 3-year-old daughter and husband were among seven people hospitalized.

"All they heard was this big ugly noise, and they didn't have no time to run," said Victoria Rosales, a relative. In Holly on Friday, residents shoveled debris and sawed up fallen trees while utility crews replaced power and telephone poles. A Red Cross truck circulated through the town, offering coffee to the workers.

The same storm system dumped mountains of snow on Wyoming, causing highway pileups and closing large portions of three interstates. Roads there were still largely inaccessible Friday. Up to 70 inches of snow fell in the Wind River Mountains area since Wednesday.

About 600 homes in the Buffalo, Wyo., area were without heat and electricity Friday morning, down from about 2,200 across north-central Wyoming on Wednesday. (AP) Associated Press writer Colleen Slevin in Colorado contributed to this report. AP-CS-03-30-07 1231EDT

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