Central & SW Oklahoma declared disaster area

It was a rough weekend for Oklahoma and we can blame Tropical Storm Erin.  Central and Southwest Oklahoma was hit by torrential rains and winds that claimed at least 6 lives and caused untold property damage.  Governor Brad Henry is declaring a state of emergency in 24 counties.

A tropical depression caused the storm to cover much of the viewing area dropping more than six inches of rain in Comanche and Caddo counties.  This "Inland Hurricane" caused rivers, like the East Cache Creek, to overflow their banks, flooding homes, streets and fields.  Many people are left without homes, but help is on the way.

7News investigated the damages; thankfully no one in Apache was seriously hurt in the storm.  The Red Cross is there assessing the damage and preparing a shelter for those in need.  The "Wagon Wheel Bridge", used to cross East Cache Creek has been wiped out.

Jennifer Palmer was busy Monday trying to clean up her home which was covered in floodwaters from the creek.  "Oh, it was bad. I was scared.  I have two boys and they were scared also," she said.  "Most of the flooring was covered in mud.  They tore out the carpet today.  Yeah, just pretty muddy inside."

The creek quickly filled up and overflowed its banks, covering streets and homes in water.  The current was so strong that hay bales and all kinds of things were pulled with it.  The city had to evacuate some families with a front end loader.  "It just hit so fast that 2 or 3 of them that I talked to had water already up to their waist just coming out of their houses," said Mayor Bill Claborn.

Claborn says no one was hurt over the weekend, but now Apache families are devastated.  The Red Cross was there all of Monday, "Food, clothing, shelter are our very first concern," said Tracy Lorah from the American Red Cross.  Do they have a place to sleep? Do they have clothes? Do they have food? And that's always number one - first 72 hours to make sure people have those basic human needs," she said. 

The Red Cross was busy setting up a shelter to make sure residents of Apache are taken care of, but there's still quite a mess to clean up, "It's awful, it's just a lot of clean up.  A lot of work," said Lorah.  Twelve families have been affected and some homes have been destroyed.

Declaring a state of emergency is the first step toward asking for Federal Assistance.  Again, the counties in 7News' immediate viewing area include:  Caddo, Comanche, Cotton, Grady, Jefferson, Kiowa and Stephens.  Henry says more counties will be added as needed.

Please check www.kswo.com and 7News for updates on flooding.