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TOTAL LOSS: Salina man loses home, business to damaging tornado

Posted at 9:59 PM, May 26, 2024

SALINA, Okla. — It was supposed to be a lake-filled weekend for the town of Salina.

However, they are now cleaning up debris from the May 25 storms.

WATCH: Storm damage in Pryor from May 25 storms.

Closer look at damage in Pryor

It was a day of discovery for Salina's neighbors as they looked at the damage for the first time on May 26.

Emmitt Chitwood owns some buildings that took the brunt of the tornado.

"I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at. You know it’s been a while. I’ve had some hard times, and this is just one of them," said Chitwood.

His home is among the businesses in the badly damaged structure. He owns a roofing company. One of his main concerns was not his own home but his client's roofs.

He drove to a home that was getting a new roof. After seeing the home was fine, he drove to his house to grab his phone.

The tornado hit as he left the house for the second time and made his way down the street.

"I headed back and thought, well, the roof’s all right, so I headed back and pulled in here to get my phone, and five minutes, not even five minutes. Bam!" said Chitwood.

Chitwood took 2 News inside of his home where it was the first look at the magnitude of the damage. The ceiling above the kitchen caved in exposing the indoors to the outdoors.

"I’m just glad none of my children, grandchildren were here. That would have been bad," said Chitwood.

He said the buildings were a total loss.

They sit on the main street where, earlier on May 25, the town held its Annual Memorial Day Parade.

"It still seems so surreal. I mean, we were just walking down Main Street together, celebrating Memorial Day, handing out flyers, and having a good ol’ time celebrating troops. And the streets we walked in last night were not the same streets. It was almost like a movie," said Assistant Police Chief Hayley Goodman.

She was with Mayor Randall Plumlee, and they remained strong together. It was on them to start looking toward the future.

 Mayor Plumlee said the support from people means a lot to the community.

"I get kind of emotional, but it made a huge impact on my heart today," said Plumlee.

He said he’s working to get funding for the community. He has reached out to the state for assistance, as well as members of Oklahoma's congress.  

Goodman said the town is under a 10 p.m. curfew due to looting calls received after the storm.

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