Pharmacist, lone businessman not leaving tornado, pollution-wrought town of Picher, Oklahoma

PICHER, Okla. - An Oklahoma town already on its last leg from years of toxic mining was dealt a fatal blow five years ago.

May 10, 2013 marks the grim anniversary for Picher, Oklahoma -- the day a tornado destroyed the town in Ottawa County, killing six people.

Today, one business still stands. The owner of Ole Miners Pharmacy says he refuses to shut down as long as he is needed.

"We all have a purpose somewhere some place and my purpose is here in Picher," said Gary Linderman, owner of Ole Miners Pharmacy.

The pharmacy has been operating since 1998.

Residents in the area also say they don't want to leave.

"We stayed here because there's no other place we'd rather be," Picher resident Roberta Blevins said.

The town only has a handful of people still living there. Blevins says she only knows of six households still in town.

Linderman tells 2News he would never forget the day the tornado ripped through his town.

"It was huge. It was there right then ... it was horrible. It took everything out," Linderman said.

Before the twister, the town was already in danger of being shut down due to contamination from years of lead and zinc mining.

Homeowners in Picher say Linderman's business still represents hope and a future for the town.

Linderman says he refuses to abandon the city and vow to stay as long as he is needed.

"There's always hope ... I think Picher ... it's not dead." said Linderman.

Like many other other homeowners in the town, Linderman says he stays because of the people in Picher who has always supported him.

"For that loyalty, friendship and support, I told them I'll be the last one to turn out the lights," Linderman said.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments