El Reno, Oklahoma Tornado: Hotel Leveled, Multiple Deaths as Storm Rolls Through

A deadly tornado swept through the small Oklahoma town of El Reno late Saturday, destroying buildings and claiming lives, according to multiple news reports. Early reports indicate two people have died, a hotel was destroyed, other buildings were damaged and the city tries holding itself together through the night.

Mayor Matt White said, "Right now, El Reno needs your prayers."

El Reno is a town of nearly 17,000 residents just west of Oklahoma City, where storms have battered the area off and on the last couple of days.

Police in nearby Union City advised its own citizens, and perhaps those in surrounding areas, to be prepared for any storms, especially while those like the "very dangerous situation tonight in El Reno" occurred.

Union City Police Chief Richard Stephens wrote, "Very dangerous situation tonight in El Reno. Severe damage with serious injuries and fatalities involved.

"Please pray for those effected by these storms as well as the emergency services workers assisting in this ongoing rescue.

"This is an unfortunate example of just how quickly these types of storms can develop from a simple thunderstorm into a deadly supercell tornado.

"Please remain weather aware and be prepared."

Fox25 in Oklahoma City reported that the tornado touched down close to an area where Interstate 40 meets Highway 81.

Skyview Mobile Home Park resident Richard Griffin said he heard everything ripping apart as the twister rolled through.

"You could hear the roar and everything when it came through," Griffin told The Oklahoman, which reported two deaths by 2 a.m. CT.

A KWTV segment indicated that no deaths had been from the hotel, but that "victims are being pulled from the rubble."

A reporter from KWTV is the one who said a hotel had been "leveled," according to this report.

The National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, warned of pending tornadoes through the night, and the area had already endured several days of heavy storms.

President Donald Trump earlier on Saturday approved a disaster declaration in 10 Oklahoma counties after 1,000 homes had been flooded because of recent storms moving across the plains states.

Storms in this part of the country at this time of year are nothing new. Oklahoma, Kansas and parts of north Texas — along with other areas close by — are known as tornado alley, and the bulk of those storms happen in the spring. Texas has experienced a big share of storms in the prior weeks, but the latest storm systems have traveled just north of the Red River and eastward across the Missouri and Mississippi valleys.