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Tornado hits Seminole, as two schools sustain heavy damage

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt visits the site of The Academy of Seminole, a charter school which sustained damage from a tornado on Wednesday evening.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (center) visits the site of The Academy of Seminole, a charter school which sustained damage from a tornado on Wednesday evening.

The town of Seminole — about 50 miles southeast of Oklahoma City — was hit by a tornado on Wednesday evening, causing significant damage to that area.

Mobile offices were tossed, buildings were damaged, windows were blown out, and roofs were ripped off as a multi-vortex tornado moved directly over Seminole, one of several tornadoes to touch down in the state.

Dramatic television coverage showed the Seminole area storm’s formation and the destruction it caused in real time.

Among the structures heavily damaged were two schools in Seminole — a charter school in town took a “direct hit from the tornado” and the city’s middle school gym had its roof damaged in the storm.

The Academy of Seminole announced in a Facebook post that school was canceled. There had been people at the school at the time, but they were able to shelter safely and nobody was injured.

“Please do not come to the school: it is extremely dangerous,” the school said in its announcement. “We will begin organizing volunteer efforts and will be reaching out to families to see how we can help one another. We will continue to post updates as we are able.”

Seminole Public Schools canceled classes Thursday because much of the city was without power. As long as electricity is restored, superintendent Bob Gragg wrote in an email that school should resume next Monday.

In the hours after the tornado struck, highways in and around Seminole were closed due to debris. Emergency crews were assessing damage and making sure no one was trapped in rubble. As of early Thursday, there were no official reports of injuries.

As of this publishing, 11,338 OG&E customers were without power. 5,442 of those were in Seminole County.

The American Red Cross said it has opened a shelter at Seminole State College for anyone affected by the tornado. Anyone who has been affected can call 1-800-Red-Cross .

Overnight, concern shifted from tornadic storms to significant flooding, particularly in Okmulgee County in eastern Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation strongly discouraged any unnecessary travel overnight in the county, especially along US-75 between Winchester and south of Okmulgee.

This was the second round of severe weather to hit Oklahoma this week. On Monday, suspected tornadoes hit the towns of Loyal, Poteau and Ripley. Severe storm damage was also reported in Seminole and Holdenville.

Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
Logan Layden is a reporter and managing editor for StateImpact Oklahoma.
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
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