Disasters, whether natural or man-made, are tragic and often lead to the loss of life. Oklahoma has experienced some of the most horrific disasters in history, but they have made us stronger as a state and a community. From deadly tornadoes to terrorism, the Sooner state has sadly endured some tragic events that have brought us together and taught us to be strong in the hard times. Here are a few tragic disasters that have hit Oklahoma:
1. Picher Lead Contamination-1967-Present
Picher, OK once was one of the most productive lead and zinc mining areas in the world. It was a busy town that was full of residents and businesses, but is now a ghost-town. The lead contamination in Picher is listed as one of the top 10 worst man-made environmental disasters in America. Picher was delared a Tar Creek Superfund Site in 1981 and the EPA calls it the most toxic place in America. The town's residents reported high levels of lead in their blood and the cancer rates skyrocketed.
2. Moore and Surrounding Area Tornado-2013
A 1-2 mile wide tornado was on the ground for 39 minutes and was rated an EF5 on the Fujita scale. 24 people were killed, including children. The damage was estimated at over 2 billion dollars and is one of the worst in Oklahoma history.
3.) Oklahoma City Bombing-1995
This horrific act of terrorism changed Oklahoma forever. On April 19, 1995, The Alfred P. Murrah building in downtown OKC was bombed by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. The bombing killed 168 people and injured over 680 others. Over 324 buildings in the area were also damaged in the blast.
4. 1930's Dust Bowl
Back in the 1930's, Oklahoma was a desert. The land became overused and when the drought hit, the weather would cause huge dust storms. The land was originally covered with grasses that would keep the soil in place, but the farming procedures and grazing of cattle caused the land to lose its top soil. These dust storms would cause zero visibility and leave everything covered in dirt, even the inside of homes. The Dust Bowl lasted for over a decade and forced many people to migrate out of Oklahoma, mostly all to the West.
5. 2015 Flooding
May 2015 is now the wettest single month on record in Oklahoma. Many areas of the Sooner state suffered their worst floods ever. The record amount of rainfall for the state capital, Oklahoma City, was 19.48 inches in the month of May. Several drownings occurred as a result of the flooding.
6. Woodward Tornado-1947
The most deadly tornado to strike Oklahoma happened in the area of Woodward on April 9, 1947. It struck Woodward without warning in the evening hours and the total death toll was 116 in Oklahoma and 181 total, including Texas. The tornado was an EF5 on the Fujita Scale. After this devastating tornado, the National Weather Service (previously the Weather Bureau) began a tornado watch and warning program in 1953.
7. I-40 Bridge Collapse-2002
On May 26, 2002, Captain Joe Dedmon experienced a blackout which in turn caused him to lose control of his tow, causing the barges he was controlling to collide with the I-40 bridge piers. A 580 ft. section of the bridge plunged into the Arkansas River near Webbers Fall. Several automobiles and tractors fell into the river, killing 14 people and injuring eleven others.
8. Tornado Outbreak of 1999
A total of 74 tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma and Kansas in less than 21 hours. 46 people were killed and over 800 injured due to this tornado outbreak on May 3, 1999.
Our condolences go out to all those who lost loved ones or who were affected by these disasters. If you have a personal experience with any of these disasters and want to share it, please comment below.