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'We all need to come': Outside agencies helping after Rogers County tornado

Posted at 6:41 PM, May 29, 2024

CLAREMORE, Okla. — Even in the most hectic of times and in the darkness of night, Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton said emergency responders from outside the county rushed in to cover for deputies and Claremore police officers who had to rescue neighbors from the wreckage.

"Those are really high-priority concerns," Sheriff Walton told 2 News on May 29. "There were a lot of those."

The Tulsa Police Department's Incident Management Team, or IMT, worked the logistics of it all within hours.

Capt. Mark Ohnesorge has commandeered the IMT unit for a decade, assisting local agencies across the nation after natural disasters. But he said coming to Rogers County was personal.

"As soon as this hit, we started hearing about officers, both IMT and otherwise, who had a connection to Claremore," Capt. Ohnesorge said. "They grew up in Claremore, they live in Claremore. So having them close to home is really significant. It does matter."

The IMT crews totaling 26 members continue to operate its command center at the county courthouse and at the Clarmore Expo Center, but they aren't the only outside agency that came to the aid of thousands.

Sheriff Walton said Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott was one of the first people to call him the night of the storm.
"Everybody, I think, has that appreciation that whenever somebody's a little bit down, we all need to come, and we were more than a little bit down," Walton said.

"What our deputies did is we worked with the Rogers County deputies, and we were checking the area for damage and looking for entrapments and trying to identify where roads were blocked and particularly worse power lines," Sheriff Elliott told 2 News via Zoom.

Days later, many still don't have power, and some don't have homes. The sheriffs said they'll continue to ensure crime is not a factor and utilities can do their part.
"It's presented challenges that we didn't see coming, but we've dealt with everything to this point," Walton said. "And again, when you look around, and you see multiple jurisdictions all coming together to meet a common goal, we're trying to move the ball, and we are moving it."

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers and Tulsa police IMT crews will be in Claremore through at least May 31, Capt. Ohnesorge said.

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