A quick overview of Stephens County action on Monday when the storm moved into this area:
About 3 p.m. Tornado spotted northeast of Marlow. It crossed State Highway 29 east of Marlow and also damaged a power transmission feed near Lake Humphreys, knocking power out to Marlow and Duncan. It affected a Cotton Electric substation, but CE crews had power restored to its customers within two hours.
Marlow Elementary School and Duncan Public Schools went into lockdown modes.
Attempts to call Marlow Elementary were unsuccessful by The Banner and some parents. The phone rang without response at that time.
County fairgrounds staff at Stephens County Fair & Expo Center crowded into a cellar and then left when it appeared the danger had passed, said SCF&EC Director Mike Anderson.
Hail, no larger than a quarter was produced by this storm. As power was out, Duncan Police officers went to major intersections on U.S. 81 to help manually direct traffic, but the atmosphere seemed calm. Traffic was also sparse in Duncan, as many people were heeding the warnings that this region could take a direct hit. Luckily, for residents here, that didn’t happen.
Many in Stephens County were unaware that a tornado was hitting Moore, just over an hour away at the same time. Word began circulating through social media outlets and cellphone service, which was intermittent. Moore took a direct hit, and the death toll count was issued at 91 as of midnight. It is expected to rise as the search continues.
The City of Duncan also closed Duncan Public Library and many businesses sent employees home early since they had no power.
Several people, using their cellphones, reported they had no Internet connection. The Banner also was without Internet connection, though power was on at the newspaper. Power was fully restored around 8 p.m.
Contact was made with Gary Ball, Stephens County Emergency Management Director and Jimmy Pryor, Deputy Director for the same agency. Both indicated around 7 p.m. that the county was safe for most of the evening, but to be alert for a storm building south of Oklahoma. They also said that today, Tuesday, would be another day for residents to be on the alert. Ball said a county task force is awaiting its assignment orders from the State Emergency Management agency and could be deployed in the next few hours.
Several local businesses and agencies are collecting donations to take to Moore. It is not advised that people go there on their own. The area is completely devastated and is also highly unsafe. Also, with the high risk of danger predicted for today, people are being cautioned to stay near shelter and familiar areas.