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Early photo of rotating portion of wall cloud near Blair, April 13. -(Photo courtesy of David Bower, W5IRH, Emergency Management volunteer, City of Altus.)
A State of Emergency, was declared by Gov. Mary Fallin after the storms that moved through the state on Friday. The State of Emergency remains in effect for 12 counties hit hard by the tornadoes and other severe weather, including Jackson. The declaration is the first step toward seeking possible federal assistance. The counties included in the state of emergency are: Alfalfa, Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Ellis, Harper, Jackson, Kiowa, Logan, Oklahoma, Woods and Woodward. More counties could be added as needed.
PRICE GOUGING STATUTE IN EFFECT
Oklahoma’s price gouging statute is in effect in the 12 counties covered by the State of Emergency. The price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services when a State of Emergency has been declared. Anyone who suspects price gouging is urged to contact the Attorney General’s Public Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029.
At approximately 6:25 p.m., Friday, April 13, a rotating wall cloud was noticed four miles south and two miles west of Blair. According to Blair’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Director Denny Davis, trained storm spotters witnessed tornadic activity. The storm “tracked a northeasterly route and violent rotation of the wall cloud occurred over the west part of Blair, lifting and destroying two silos and a grain elevator.”Seventy mile and hour winds were reported, with hail up to half-dollar size and heavy rain were also reported.
At the Blair Police Department, Police Chief Joe Poulin experienced a loud whistling noise and felt a vacuum of air. This blew the windows out of the Blair Police Department, a BPD vehicle and a Jackson County Sheriff’s vehicle parked in front of the Police Department.
According to joint efforts of the Jackson County Emergency Management Director Wayne Cain, Altus City Emergency Management Director Lloyd Colston, and Blair EOC Director Denny Davis, the following preliminary estimates of damage were received. They are working together to gather information to submit to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).
Town of Blair property damage
In addition to windows and a storm door damage at the BPD, and the two vehicles, a Blair Fire truck sustained damage to a front fender and passenger door. A weather station weather head, storm siren and a cell phone were also damaged.
Business damage to Blair
The Blair Post Office had damage to their electrical meter and weather head. Orick Building Sales damage to portable storage buildings initial assessment of approximately $50,000 plus. The Humphries Co-op estimate their losses of two grain silos and storage bin to be $50,000 replacement cost. The Peoples State Bank of Blair had damage to their carport and electrical system. The Blair School had damage to electrical power lines that were down on the school. Blair First Baptist Church sustained roof and structural damage. Blair Superette Drive Through had damage. Petzold Building Sales had damage to portable buildings. Emerson Sign and Sheds sustained damage to portable buildings estimated $50,000. Danny’s Tavern building was destroyed and had electrical damage. Danny’s Auto Shop had water and vehicle damage.
Residential damage estimates
Colston also said that approximately 90 percent of homes in Blair sustained roof damage. According to Cain, damage to homes was minor but widespread. In the City of Blair, Cain said they had damage to 157 homes and 19 mobile homes and four additional homes not in the City, for a total of 180 homes affected.The power was out for the Blair area for approximately six hours.
Jackson County had two homes damaged, 50 affected plus ten mobile homes for a total of 62 homes in the county. The north section of Altus was out of power for approximately one hour.
There was one injury affiliated with the storm. An elderly gentleman fell on entry to his torm cellar and broke an arm. Cain said, “We have not received data on the cost of debris clean-up at this time. However there are a tremendous number of tree limbs, privacy fences and other debris through the City of Blair and around Jackson County.”