Oklahoma tornadoes: Cleanup efforts underway in towns hit hard by deadly twisters

A tornado outbreak in Oklahoma killed at least four people and left a trail of damage across the state, leveling homes and businesses.

As of Monday, local officials say four people were killed, including a child, and at least 100 others were injured.

At least 22 tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, the National Weather Service confirms, with the most powerful ones ripping through the towns of Holdenville, Marietta and Sulphur.

Hospitals across the state reported about 100 injuries, including people apparently cut or struck by debris, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. A baby was among those killed, Hughes County Emergency Management Director Mike Dockrey told Oklahoma television station KOCO.

A tornado near Holdenville killed two people and damaged or destroyed more than a dozen homes, according to the Hughes County Emergency Medical Service.

In Marietta, Oklahoma, one person was killed along I-35. Marietta is a small town about 55 miles north of Denton.

A fourth person was killed in Sulphur, Oklahoma after she was trapped in a bar after the roof collapsed. 

Marietta Tornado Damage

The National Weather Service upgraded the tornado that struck Marietta from an EF-3 to an EF-4. There, at least 40 homes, businesses and government buildings have been damaged. Crews are working to restore power.

Amber Czismy showed FOX 4 what's left of her Marietta home. She was asleep on the couch Saturday night when a powerful tornado tore through their rural neighborhood. 

"I woke up to my husband saying, ‘Get the hell up!’" she recalled. "And I jumped up in panic because he doesn’t typically say that."

The only room in their home without windows is the guest bathroom.

"This was our hiding hole," she said.

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Cleanup efforts underway in Marietta, Oklahoma

On Monday, the NWS upgraded the Marietta tornado from an EF-3 to an EF-4 with winds as high as 170 mph and a track of 27 miles.

Semi-tractor trailers were tossed around by the tornado and heavily damaged several cars.

Several people ran inside the Brody’s Roadies gas station for help.

Sara Rose's family owns the gas station. It was also heavily damaged by the high-powered winds.

"It was complete chaos, drivers coming in who were affected by the tornado, of course," she recalled.

"A lot of water damage, a lot of the product got sucked out of the store when the tornado came through. Kind of knocked out the windows," recalled store manager Tammy Bates. "And it was a vortex, and it started sucking stuff out of the store."

"My husband stayed overnight with the truck drivers and all of the people who didn’t have anywhere to go," Rose said.

Across the street, the town's only grocery store, Homeland, was destroyed as well as the Dollar General store next door.

A block away, the hospital emergency room was heavily damaged, along with a nursing home.

Now, the painful recovery process begins, turning one-time strangers into friends.

Along Highway 77, dozens of electrical crews are working around the clock to restore power.

Czismy remains hopeful.

"You don’t really have a choice. You have to start over," she said. "I’m just super grateful that I’ve got my husband, my dogs, yeah.

Czismy says it all happened so quickly that she didn't have enough time to grab her 19-year-old cat. When the tornado passed and they opened the door, their house was gone, but their cat was standing right there alive and well.

Tornado Damage in Sulphur

Monday, Raina Valkoun had to put on a brave face when she was forced to visit what’s left of her Sulphur bar. It’s the same spot where she was trapped just 48 hours ago.  

"What else am I going to do?" she said. "If I don’t smile, I am going to cry. So I got to smile."


Saturday evening, a deadly EF-3 tornado tore through the small Oklahoma town. 

Nearly a dozen people were trapped inside Raina’s Bar as the roof collapsed. 

"So I turned around here and dove down next to the bar and the wall," Valkoun recalled. "I got myself in an air pocket, and then the building fell on me. All the bricks fell on me. I was buried."

Valkoun is thankful someone found her. Her friend was killed. Three others are in the ICU. 

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Tornado damage in Sulphur, Oklahoma

"And then when they dug me out, we got out finally," the bar owner said. "We were trying to find everybody. We were told they got everyone out. We all asked, ‘Where’s Sheila? Where’s Sheila?’ And then they found her the next day."

In the heart of Downtown Sulphur, people were still taking in the damage Monday. 

Power crews were hard at work. Homeowners made some headway at clearing debris. 

Alex Campbell drove in the middle of the storm to pick up her two children from their grandparents’ house. Thankfully, the whole family is safe. 

"I was pretty terrified," she recalled. "That’s why I am glad I got them out and to the shelter in time. So they didn’t have to experience that."

Just steps away from the devastation, the First Christian Church of Sulphur sits unharmed. The 100-year-old stained-glass windows survived. Now, it serves as a symbol of strength. 


"When we came here after the tornado, all of the windows were unscathed.  We walked into the sanctuary, and it looked just like it did on Sunday morning," said Sulphur resident Fred Chitwood. "It’s just got to be hope that you know somebody is watching over us." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.