Okla. Tribal Members Survive Caddo Mounds Tornado That Killed 1, Injured Dozens
ALTO, TX. - This past Saturday, a tornado destroyed a Native American museum in Texas with ties to Oklahoma. The storm injured at least 25 people, and killed one person.
The Caddo Mounds Historical Site is scared to the Caddo Tribe who have members that live in Oklahoma. Some of those members were in Texas when the tornado hit for the tribe’s annual culture festival.
Without warning, witnesses say high winds hit, the museum walls collapsed and the roof caved in.
“By the time we started getting a signal that we were in danger, our ears were already popping. The winds had shifted, and we could hear the grinding of the tornado,” said Jennifer Reeder.
She said there were no sirens, and cell service was spotty because it’s in a rural area.
Witnesses said nearly 100 people gathered in building and had no proper storm shelter.
Suddenly, the skies turned dark.
“We're talking like 1:30 or 2 in the afternoon, and it was black outside. It looked like night,” said Jeri Redcorn.
She said they made their way to a closet, but the high winds tossed people on top of each other. Redcorn was in the bottom of the pile.
“There was a little girl, and her face was maybe 10 inches from my face. We were both on the floor, and she was screaming and crying,” said Redcorn.
Many people were trapped in the rubble. As some were able to escape, they pulled others from the crumbled building.
Emergency vehicles didn't make it to the scene until two to four hours later, according to the survivors.
The debris covered the roads, and finally a helicopter landed near the wreckage.
“All I could think about when I was there buried under all the ruble was, if this was any larger, we would have lost a lot of our elders and children. It would have been bad,” said Reeder.
A newly built grass house was blown away by the tornado. The creation was meant to honor the history of the Caddo Tribe.
Witnesses said they don't believe the burial mounds were disturbed by the storm.
Still, it's a major loss for the Caddo Tribe.
“We need better detection in rural America. We need to know when storms are coming. We need shelters,” said Reeder.
There will be another Caddo festival this weekend in Norman. It will be held at the Sam Noble Museum on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
While many of the cultural pottery pieces won't be there now, everyone is invited to come support the tribe.