Tornado misses, Rain continues

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com
Hominy emergency management director Felix Nance lays out facts for residents in community meeting Wednesday. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

HOMINY — Hominy had rain and street flooding Wednesday night, but no new house flooding that Felix Nance, the town’s emergency management director, was aware of first thing Thursday morning. A tornado reportedly passed to the west of Hominy Wednesday night, but did not directly strike the community.

“I think we got by,” Nance said.

Municipal officials had warned the public in a town meeting Wednesday afternoon to be ready for another night of storms and rain, in addition to the storms Monday and Tuesday that dropped more than eight inches of rain and resulted in numerous high-water rescues. Nance said in the meeting that the bulk of the earlier rain fell in a period of about three and a half hours.

“That’s what caused the problem,” Nance said Wednesday. “Just so you know, Mother Nature is thinking about flexing her muscles again tonight. So I encourage you to maintain your weather awareness.”

Hominy officials said some 75-100 people were adversely affected by the storms Monday and Tuesday. The fire department rescued about 40 people from their homes and another 13 from vehicles.

Coby Surritte, assistant fire chief, said the first rescue call came in about 8:24 p.m. Monday. It was a vehicle rescue that involved a woman, a small child and a dog, he said.

“We were getting call after call after call,” Surritte said. “It didn’t stop for hours … the calls never stopped.”

Surritte said firefighters carried out rescue operations in some homes where there was more than five feet of water. The families of two firefighters were affected by home flooding, but those firefighters remained focused on their duties and participated in rescue operations, he said.

Hominy Police Chief Michael Martin also had to evacuate his home which was completely flooded.

Surritte said rescue operations continued almost until 1 a.m. Tuesday. Hominy firefighters received assistance from Wynona and Cleveland, and from the Osage County Sheriff’s Office and ranchers, he said. Forty homes and six businesses were damaged by the storms.

“No one was injured. It was amazing to see,” Surritte said.

Janeen Stuart, of the local Ministerial Alliance, said Wednesday afternoon that the Church of the Nazarene, which has a basement, was already open in anticipation of rough weather the coming evening. First Christian Church, which sheltered evacuees Monday night, would also be available, she said.

Stuart said additional food and cleaning supplies would be important in the coming days, but the faith community would not be taking donations of clothing and shoes.

Nance cautioned residents they will need to discard water-damaged household items that could grow mold. He mentioned carpeting, bedding and furniture such as couches.

“That stuff will grow mold,” he said. Nance said it will be necessary to separate different types of items intended for disposal. “You are going to have multiple piles in your front yard for a while, I am sorry to say.”

Taking up another critical topic, Nance emphatically told residents that Hominy’s drinking water is safe. He acknowledged that flooding initially made it impossible for city employees to get into the water treatment plant, but said workers eventually got in and found that the automated plant was functioning correctly.

“The water is safe to drink,” he said. “I will say that again, the water is safe.”

Hominy officials said they hoped the Red Cross, which is busy providing assistance throughout Oklahoma, will be in Hominy soon. Officials also voiced hope the community will receive help from Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief.

City Manager Jimmie Ratliff II said trash had not been picked up in Hominy since the first wave of storms hit Monday. Residents were told dumpsters will be made available, but it may be the first part of next week before those are in place.

Ratliff said the municipality would be creating damage assessment form for use in assessing properties. He also assured residents that while the local lake is high, the dam is not in any danger.