Lone Grove tornado survivors pick up pieces

Lone Grove_Homes were flattened, trees uprooted, eight people killed, and 14 injured by Tuesday night's tornado. Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry declared a state of emergency in 17 counties, and said it will speed up efforts to assist areas hit by the tornado.  He says it is a first step toward asking for federal assistance.

In Lone Grove, survivors and rescue workers dug through the wreckage as emergency crews tried to locate people and restore power lines.  Most of what is left in the town are houses stripped of their roofs, buildings picked apart, and a town trying to salvage anything that's left.

All that is left of Lee Hudson's home are a toppled garage, snapped trees, and a pile of his belongings.  He wasn't at home when the tornado hit, someone called to tell him what happened.  "A relative called me and said that my house was gone," he said.  "You can see what's left - there's no home to come to."

While Hudson wasn't home, his friend Kelli West was.  "The sky just turned green," she said.  "You could see transformers blowing, and you could just hear the timber breaking."  And, when Kenny McConnell heard that he and his family were in the path of a tornado, they took shelter in a safe room.  They weren't there for long, though.  "From the time that I shut the safe room door to the time it hit, it was about four minutes," said McConnell.  "It was over in twenty or thirty seconds."

McConnell says those few seconds were frightening.  "There was a loud roar, the door moved in and out, and then there was a big boom - and that was it."  His sister Darla Foley drove from Lawton on Wednesday to help her brother and family clean up, and says she was just as scared as they were.  "I was scared," she said.  "You get that deep feeling in your stomach that just kind of makes you sick.  You get the shakes, and get concerned whether they are okay or not."

While many are busy salvaging what they can, Steven Graham witnessed the tornado and is spending time with family - thankful to be alive.  "What I was thinking is: I almost died, I don't have no cable, my cell phone was out of minutes, we had no warning, I didn't hear no sirens - I'm just lucky to be alive right now."

Not everyone was lucky.  "The death toll has held at eight - we have eight fatalities," said Michelann Ooten with Emergency Management.  "Additionally, the injury number stands at fourteen."  For survivors, they say all they can do is move on.  "Start all over, don't give up."

The tornado that hit Lone Grove has been determined to be an EF-4, meaning winds were clocked at speeds of at least 170 miles-per-hour.  Emergency management says there are still two people unaccounted for.

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