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'It's just heartbreaking' | Gov. Stitt visits Barnsdall after EF-4 tornado

Gov. Stitt Barnsdall Tornado Press Conference
Posted at 9:40 PM, May 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-08 09:57:34-04

BARNSDALL, Okla. — An EF-4 tornado left Barnsdall as a shell of itself.

Homes are flattened, bricks are piled up, and lives are changed.

Gov. Kevin Stitt traveled there a day after the tornado struck, to survey the damage. He found dozens of homes destroyed.

"When you see this type of damage, it’s just heartbreaking, you just don’t know how anybody could survive," Stitt said.

WATCH: Stitt talks about Barnsdall tornado:

News conference on Barnsdall recovery

Jack Miller is a lifelong Barnsdall neighbor. The storms severely damaged his home.

He had access to a cellar, and was safe from the tornado, but it wasn't without some luck.

A wheelchair bound family member lived in a home just about 30 feet away. It took them thirty minutes to load her into the wheelchair, get her across the way, and into the cellar.

Miller told 2 News they entered the cellar in the nick of time.

"Me and my grandson was holding the chain on the cellar door. So the tornado couldn’t pull it back open. And … I thought it was gonna pull it open," Miller said.

Gov. Stitt toured damage along with Oklahoma's Emergency Management Chief Annie Mack-Vest and Barnsdall Mayor Johnny Kelley. The mayor promised assistance from city leaders.

"We’re here for you. And anything that you need, and anything that we need to do to help you … we’ll do anything in our power to help you and make sure our citizens are taken care of," Kelley said.

Stitt said he secured $45 million to match federal relief funds. Part of those funds will be spent in Barnsdall, and other parts will go to relief efforts elsewhere, including some storms dating back a year.

Oklahomans are urged to report damage at Officials say that is the best way for them to meet communites' needs.

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