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May 20, 2013

Tornadoes hit Kansas, Oklahoma

EDMOND, Okla. — A powerful storm system rumbled through the Plains and upper Midwest yesterday, spawning tornadoes that damaged homes and buildings near Oklahoma City and put the Tulsa area on high-alert.

There were no immediate reports of injuries caused by any of the tornadoes that touched down in Oklahoma and Kansas, including one that hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond before moving northeast toward Tulsa, 90 miles to the northeast.

For days, forecasters had been warning about the possibility of tornadoes from a weekend storm, and emergency responders as far north as Minnesota and as far south as Texas were keeping a close eye on the powerful system pushing eastward and northward through the nation’s breadbasket.

“I knew it was coming,” said Randy Grau, who huddled with his wife and two young boys in their Edmond’s home’s safe room when the tornado hit. He said he peered out his window as the weather worsened and believed he saw a flock of birds heading down the street.

“Then I realized it was swirling debris. That’s when we shut the door of the safe room, said Grau, adding that they sheltered in the room for 10 minutes.

In Wichita, Kan., a tornado touched down near Mid-Content Airport on the city’s southwest side shortly before 4 p.m., knocking out power to 7,500 homes and businesses but bypassing the most populated areas of Kansas’ biggest city.

“At this point, there are very few reports of damage and no reports of fatalities or injuries, and we’re very grateful for that,” said Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan.

In Oklahoma, aerial television news footage showed homes that appeared to have suffered significant damage northeast of Oklahoma City. Some outbuildings appeared to have been leveled, and some homes’ roofs or walls had been knocked down.

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