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Tornadoes rock the Plains states; retailers unscathed

Published May 21, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (BRAIN) — Widespread tornado warnings issued throughout the Plains states over the weekend became reality Sunday across parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Several small and three large tornadoes touched down Sunday afternoon, injuring more than 20 people and killing two in Oklahoma.

The Bicycle Shoppe owner Larry Smith said his store, located at 701 N. Beard Street in Shawnee, Oklahoma, was not damaged in the tornado that destroyed the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park on the east side of town Sunday, killing two men. 

Farther north, in Wichita, Kansas, a tornado touched down Sunday night, forcing one news station’s staff to take cover during a live broadcast. “Our building is intact,” said Shawn Schmidt of Heartland Bicycle, located on North Mosley in Wichita. “But it has been stormy all day, with golf-ball-sized hail causing all kinds of damage in the Wichita metro area.”

Tornadoes did not strike Sunday in Manhattan, Kansas, but severe thunderstorms threatened the Kansas State Mountain Bike Championships, forcing organizers to cut the festivities short. “We had to rush to get the podium prizes done and wrap things up before the storms really hit,” said Big Poppi Bike Shop owner Jeff Koenig. 

Adam Vanderburg, owner of Lee’s Bicycles in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said that the community was under tornado watch all day Monday, but saw only rain. “We’ve had lots of rain. It’s been a rainy spring, which has been great because we’ve been in a drought, but it’s been a slow start to the season. Spring took forever to get here,” said Vanderburg. 

On Monday, the storms were showing no sign of letting up as a monstrous mile-wide tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, destroying homes and schools as the storm cell made its way east Monday afternoon. 

Bike One has two stores in the Oklahoma City area, including one at 159 24th Avenue NW in Norman, about five miles away from the destruction in Moore. Phone lines were down, but that store was reported to be unharmed. 

Likewise, Al’s Bicycles in Oklahoma City reported that none of its four stores have been damaged so far. “It missed us, but farther to the south is considerably more devastated,” said Eli Brandengberger of Al’s Bicycles' Oklahoma City south location. “Everything at the Edmond store is OK, but phones are down,” he added. 

The ferocity and path of the tornado that hit Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon was reminiscent of the twisters that struck Oklahoma and Kansas in 1999, with winds registering between 150 and 200 mph. The region braced for more storms and remained under tornado watch until 10 p.m. CDT on Monday.

 

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