Campers Injured as Storms Hit in Oklahoma
At least four people were injured at Brewers Bend, a campground northwest of Webbers Falls, on Monday (May 10) evening as storms, some creating tornadoes, passed through the state, according to the Tulsa World.
Camp hosts Pal and Josie Ballard, both in their 80s, were banged and bruised but escaped serious injury after the Warner Fire Department cut them from the wreckage of their travel trailer.
As they sat in lawn chairs among the debris with family members gathered around Pal Ballard said he didn’t remember much from Monday night when the storm dropped down around 8 p.m.
“The electricity went off, then, whoop — there she went,” he said. “I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get up. I had too much junk on me."
Josie Ballard, who is in a weakened condition following a stroke, said she asked the Lord to take care of them.
“About that time it all went,” she said.
Looking inside the trailer, it was easy to marvel that the couple, wed for 62 years, survived.
Twenty of those years have been as park attendants at the campground.
Two pine trees they planted 17 years ago still stood. Their travel trailer rested on its top against one of the trees as
if to keep it from blowing away.
Neighbors tried to help keep their spirits up.
“She’s going to have to go through psychotherapy,” John Bayliss, a family friend quipped of the Ballards’ dog, who went through the storm inside the trailer.
They only had their trailer for three months and, at their ages, had decided not to insure it. The couple have lots of family, but it wasn’t clear what they will do.
The hood was caved in on their truck but it still started; their storage building was flattened.
One of the other trailers at the campground looked like an accordion, but residents said the people living in it were OK and actually were trying to help rescue the Ballards.
Pal Ballard believes there were about eight people that rode out the storm at campground.
Lowell Joe Wilhelm said his parents, Lowell and Dovie Wilhelm, were still in the hospital. Their trailer was thrown to its side.
Wilhelm said his mother’s back was broken and both had multiple lacerations.
They, too, had to be pulled from the wreckage.
“They don’t remember much,” said Wilhelm’s daughter Eileen Roberts. “They said they were watching the weather and the next thing they knew the trailer started shaking.
Muskogee County Sheriff’s spokesman Joe Hughart said Muskogee County Emergency Service transported at least three people to Muskogee Regional Hospital.
National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Amburn said a tornado warning was issued in the Braggs and Webbers Falls area at 7:54 p.m. Monday. It was part of the same tornadic storm that started in Seminole County and continued through Okfuskee County, he said.
Park Ranger Cathy Hendrix said the Brewers Bend camp site will be closed pending further notice.
“We’ll reopen when we know it’s safe,” Hendrix said.