At least 30 people were injured and dozens of businesses damaged as a tornado swept through Midtown Tulsa early Sunday morning.
Four businesses and one home were destroyed. Ten businesses have had their property condemned. No deaths were reported from the F2-rated tornado – one of four that happened early Sunday morning.
Jerry Kaminski, owner of Cartec Automotive Services, said his shop at 5609 E. 41st Street was heavily damaged but on Monday he was not certain of the extent of the damage. It was on the list of condemned buildings. No employees were in the shop at the time and only one customer’s car. The only equipment that was destroyed was an alignment machine.
“The windows got blown off of our showroom,” Kaminski said. “It looks a lot worse than it is. The roof doesn’t actually look that bad.
“But I have no idea when we can reopen.”
Kaminski said the customers at that location could get service at his other location at 3003 S. Harvard Ave.
A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Tulsa County at 1:08 a.m. Sunday but the tornado formed and struck with such speed at 1:25 a.m. that the National Weather Service didn’t have time to sound the tornado sirens to warn people.
On Sunday, traffic lights were off on parts of Memorial Drive, Sheridan Road and Yale Avenue. Police closed 41st Street to prevent looting and help utility workers restore power.
It is unusual for a tornado to hit Tulsa and it is very rare for a tornado to strike in August. There have only been two tornadoes in Tulsa County in August since the 1950s. The whole state only averages one tornado annually in August but averages 23 each May.
The tornado blew the roof off a Whataburger on 41st Street near I-44. A Chipotle restaurant was damaged and some customers were injured when the storm hit TGI Friday’s on 41st Street.
The Promenade Mall was damaged and didn’t reopen for several days. The roof was damaged and the center lost power. An 18-story office building on Skelly Drive, Remington Tower, suffered damage and lost electrical power.
An industrial area east of Sheridan Road at 42nd Street was hit hard and crews worked Monday trying to clean debris and restore power. Ferguson Plumbing lost its roof and All Granite Marble Store and Oklahoma Disaster Restoration were damaged.
The Bank of Oklahoma office building at 41st Street and Sheridan Road was damaged, with debris spread toward Sheridan Road.
The first tornado (EF2) hit the ground for seven miles, starting east of Harvard Avenue and south of 36th Street. Its path was about 500 yards wide.
The second tornado (EF1) hit in Broken Arrow about 1:30 a.m. Sunday and ran for three miles. Some houses were damaged and trees uprooted. More damage was reported near Battle Creek Golf Course but might be due to straight winds.
The final tornado (EF1) had 4 1/2-mile path about 200 yards wide near Oologah.
Reports from PSO were that as many as 17,000 customers lost electrical service due to the storms. Crews worked to restore power to about 3,000 remaining customers on Monday.
These emergency departments were mobilized: Tulsa Police, Tulsa Fire, City of Tulsa Streets and Stormwater, PSO, ONG, TAEMA, and EMSA.
The City’s Streets and Stormwater crews worked to remove downed trees in roadways. Crews started working on 41st Street at Harvard Avenue and worked their way east. Only two roads were closed due to flooding, 81st Street and Elwood Avenue and 1800 N. Mingo Road.
The City’s Streets and Stormwater Department will assess residential damage in the identified area and a residential debris plan will be identified this week. The City’s Greenwaste site will be open extended hours.
If customers smell gas, Oklahoma Natural Gas advises to leave the area and call 911 or the ONG emergency line at 1-800-458-5251.
The Tulsa Police Department advised that residents should be cautious of individuals assessing damage that do not represent their home insurance company. Fraudulent activities rise following a natural disaster. Residents are encouraged to contact their insurance company for damages and not provide financial or personal information to individuals coming door-to-door.
TPD will continue to maintain a presence in the area for safety and security until the situation is stabilized.
City officials said they would evaluate the protocol in place for outdoor sirens. Tulsa’s Emergency Operation Center is activated.