SEMINOLE, Okla. (NewsNation) — A devastating tornado left a wake of destruction in Oklahoma and parts of Texas on Wednesday night, leaving homes, businesses and schools destroyed.
Widespread destruction was evident in the town of Seminole, Oklahoma, a town of about 7,500 people 60 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.
A charter school was torn to shreds as the buildings were flipped completely over; the historic downtown is also almost completely ravaged by the tornado.
Seminole resident Tiffani Coker and her family endured a harrowing experience, sheltering in a gun vault in a renovated armory turned school, as the tornado ripped through their town.
Her husband and teenage son had to hold the vault door shut to prevent it from swinging open during the storm. She believes this saved their lives.
“Just before the tornado hit us, we lost power. It made it very, very, very dark in the gun vault,” Coker said. “But as we came out of the vault after the tornado … going into the vault it was in a building, coming out of the vault, it was open sky.”
The storms have also triggered strong winds and large hail. However, as the storms continue to march eastward, the risk of flash flooding will be greatest with the final storm.
In Washington County, Arkansas, many people evacuated their homes Thursday morning and are waiting out the storm at a gas station.
“I rushed in … my apartment first and I started running around letting the neighborhood know that it’s starting to flood,” recalled Al Robinson, a Fayetteville resident.
Meanwhile, suspected tornadoes caused damage in Texas and Oklahoma, trapping some people who were later rescued, authorities said.
Seminole County Undersheriff Matt Haley said he was unaware of any injuries resulting from the weather.
In Texas, Wilbarger County Emergency Management Coordinator Cody Alexander announced that a tornado was blamed for damage in the Lockett area, about 170 miles northwest of Dallas.
There were no significant injuries or deaths among residents in Wilbarger County, Sheriff Brian Fritze said, though he added that several homes and barns appeared to suffer extensive damage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.