Emergency Managers Warn Against Attempting To Outrun Tornadoes

Saturday, June 1st 2013, 11:33 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma under siege, again; a second tornado outbreak in as many weeks takes more lives, and destroys more homes. And this time, a double whammy, as rising floodwaters leave homes, cars, and roads swamped.

News 9 is learning new information on the deadly storms that tore across the state Friday. The Medical Examiner's office confirms nine fatalities from Friday's tornadoes. The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office confirms another from flooding. And a drowning in Okfuskee County brings the total to 11.

That includes two children. The chief medical examiner says they don't know who two of the victims are and are working to identify them. Several of those deaths were people caught in their cars one of the worst places to be during a severe storm.

The interstates around Oklahoma City were packed with vehicles as tornadoes barreled down the Interstate 40 corridor. It crumpled cars like aluminum cans and Saturday night emergency managers put out another warning about trying to outrun a storm in your car.

It was gridlock on I-40, I-35, I-44 and I-240 as thousands of people attempted to make it home before the storms hit.

"It's hard to get out there and help when we have tens-of-thousands of people who are outside stranded," said Oklahoma County Emergency Manger, David Barnes.

Complete Coverage: May 2013 Tornado Outbreak

Troopers, deputies and police officers frantically tried getting people off the roads and into shelter. Barnes says many people waited too long to make their move.

"If a watch is issued, a tornado watch or a severe thunderstorm watch, that means I get my radar information. I get my local forecast. I get my radio tuned where it needs to be. I start making my move to shelter," said Barnes.

Tragically several people lost their lives, including a woman and her young child when their cars were tossed by the tornadoes. Barnes says if you are caught in your vehicle during a tornado outbreak, get out.

"I am safer in a ditch or a low-lying area than I am in my vehicle. That's a very difficult call because people don't want to get out in the rain. They don't want to get out in the hail," said Barnes.

Mayor Mick Cornett echoed some of those points, saying we have to learn from last night's storms.

"Hopefully next time there's a major weather event, people will be at home or at least be in one place and won't be on the roads trying to get from one place to another," said Cornett.

You have to prepare and make your move early. If you're out in public for some reason, the experts say to look for a small building made of rock or brick for shelter. They say chances of surviving in your car are slim.