The Pryor Times

April 20, 2013

Tornado season begins in Mayes Co.

Staff Writer
Susan Wagoner

No sirens sounded when a storm ripped through Spavinaw in the early morning hours Thursday.

Cousins Edna Tanner and Janet Woods were dazed and saddened as they wandered down Main Street looking at the devastation.

“I heard on the television that Spavinaw needed to take cover,” Tanner said of the only warning that came around 1 a.m. I was in Langley and the sirens went off there.”

“We used to have sirens, I’m sure, but I didn’t hear nothing,” Woods added. “I went to my landlord’s house. It took out his fence and his garage. There were trees on top of the houses.”

Woods said she has lived in Spavinaw all of her life. As she took in the heavily damaged surroundings, tears sprang from her eyes.

“It’s so hard to see this town torn up like this,” she said. “I heard there was an 8-year-old boy that had been missing from the trailer park, but they found him under some debris. I heard he’s OK.”

“I just prayed for the Lord to take us in his hands and keep us safe,” Tanner said, as the two took comfort in each other.

Across the street, homeowner Gene Read surveys the surreal scene next-door.

A double-wide mobile home, also owned by Read, was picked up, flipped upside down and dropped on the home of his neighbor, Mike Dollard. No one inside the house was injured.

“My house shook like an earthquake,” Read said. “My grandson lived in that mobile home up until about a month ago.”

The mobile home was empty at the time of the storm.

“I’m just real sad because the neighbors got it,” Read said. “I don’t know them real well, but they seemed very nice. I’m glad no one was hurt.”

Read moved to Oklahoma from Washington state seven years ago.

“This was my very first tornado and I pray to God it was my last,” he said.

A veteran, Read said his wife is from Oklahoma and the reason they moved to the area.

“I love this little town,” he said. “It’s quiet and the people are nice.”

Suddenly a young man walks up to Read and gives him a hug.

“I’m glad you’re safe,” the younger man said. Another man appeared and reached for the young man’s hand.

“I’m sure glad you weren’t in that trailer,” he said as they shook hands.

The young man is Austin McMahill, lived with his wife and child in the mobile home now resting upside down 15 feet off the ground. The couple moved to another community just a few weeks ago.

“It was so scary,” McMahill said. “My wife called me at work and told me what had happened. It scared the crap out of me.”

Shock on his face, he stared at his former home in disbelief.

“I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” McMahill said. “This is crazy.”

Family friend Shirley Russell wanders around from the back yard, where she had been sifting through debris.

“These are my dearest friends in the world,” she said of Read. She is holding an angel in her hands. The glass figurine was wet, but completely unharmed.

“Look at this. It can destroy a home like that,” she said as she looked around. “But this little angel is perfect, not a scratch on it. God was good to us this time.”

A trailer park in Spavinaw also suffered major damage. Spavinaw school was hit, suffering major roof damage and power line issues.

A nearby church was missing its steeple and bell ... still not recovered by searchers. Below the missing steeple was a sign declaring the facility as a tornado shelter.

No serious injuries were reported.