Tornadoes, severe flooding hit Oklahoma City area, injuries reported

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY, May 7 (Reuters) - A series of tornadoes touched down southwest of Oklahoma City on Wednesday, injuring several residents of a trailer park, causing severe flooding and a temporary escape of bears from a wildlife park, officials said.

No deaths were reported, but some residents of a trailer park were treated at local hospitals, said Dee Patty, a police spokeswoman. The Oklahoman newspaper reported 12 people injured.

"I think we got lucky," Patty said. "We've seen a lot worse come through these same areas."

The tornadoes flipped cars, downed power lines, snapped trees and damaged homes and other structures, with broadcast footage showing piles of scattered debris amid farmland. Several roads were closed because of debris.

Patty said two people were hurt in a weather-related road accident. The Oklahoman reported a third was injured when entering a storm shelter and a fourth person by flying debris.

Several bears escaped from enclosures at an animal park after a tornado struck the city of Tuttle 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Oklahoma City, the Grady County Sheriff's Office said. The bears were rounded up soon afterward without incident.

A storm system brought severe weather to several Great Plains states and the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for an area stretching from central Texas to central Nebraska. About two dozen tornadoes were reported in the area.

Earlier on Wednesday, passengers, visitors and employees at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City were evacuated to a pedestrian tunnel for about 30 minutes as the storms moved through the area, the airport said. All flights were canceled through the evening.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for downtown Oklahoma City amid storms and heavy rain in the broader area, the first such warning in city history. It said the airport received 6.9 inches (17.5 cm) of rain for the day.

Grady County officials said 10 homes in the nearby town of Amber were damaged along with 25 homes in Bridge Creek. South Oklahoma City reported a hotel along Interstate 35 was among other structures damaged.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said more than 10,000 homes and businesses were without power statewide. (Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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