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Tornado, Flood Dangers Grip Midwest Areas

May 29, 1987|From Associated Press

Torrential rain, wind and lightning rippled along a 1,000-mile atmospheric battlefront Thursday from Texas to Wisconsin, forcing hundreds of evacuations, washing out a bridge, eroding a highway and knocking radio and TV stations off the air.

The clash of warm air from the Gulf of Mexico with cool northern and western air brought reports of funnel clouds and flash flood watches across the nation's midsection. Tornado watches were in effect in 57 Texas counties, and a few funnels touched down but did no damage.

In Michigan, east of the aerial boundary, muggy heat threatened farm animals and caused a run on air conditioners as utilities generated record power output.

Oklahoma City Hit Hard

The Oklahoma City area was hit hard, with nine inches of rain falling Wednesday, sometimes at the rate of an inch an hour. Torrential rain hit for a 10th consecutive day Thursday, a 100-foot long bridge was washed out and reservoir floodgates were open to release rising water.

"It came up so fast my husband was putting furniture up on blocks, on top of tables, whatever he could find," said Lois Knapp in Lindsay, 45 miles south of Oklahoma City. "I can tell right now it's not going to be high enough."

A 14-year-old boy died Wednesday when he was washed into a creek, and a 2-year-old girl died Thursday when her family's car washed off a road. Her mother, a sister and a brother clung to a tree and were saved when a passer-by heard their screams.

In Guthrie, Okla., several hundred residents headed for high ground Thursday after Cottonwood Creek rose to more than 27 feet. Rural homes were evacuated near Norman, and an Army helicopter rescued a woman from a flooded road.

Flooding Snarls Traffic

Roads throughout central Oklahoma were flooded, and traffic during the rush hour got snarled when the interchange where the state's two major interstates meet in downtown Oklahoma City was closed by erosion.

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