MOORE, Okla. -- Although the number of deaths is still being revised, at least 24 people, including nine children, have been killed and about 240 people injured by a massive tornado that hit Moore, Okla., south of Oklahoma City on Monday. Two schools, a hospital and many homes and businesses were leveled by the twister, including a 7-Eleven store.
Brandon Morgan, a storm chaser, first spotted the twister near the 7-Eleven gas station, said Time magazine. He reported the sighting and then ran into the station to urge the four people inside to take cover. Minutes later, all four were killed.
Morgan, meanwhile, had raced away in his car, not realizing just how big the tornado was--a category 4, out of 5, on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale, according to the report. The storm seemed to follow him as he sped across town on Interstate 35. When the storm dissipated, he called his brother, who lives nearby, and the two headed to their grandfather's house, not far from the 7-Eleven. Along the way, they pulled two women out of the ruins of a Dollar General store, and tried to get to a home that was on fire.
"You hear screams, you go help," Morgan, who works in security and is a National Guardsman, told the media outlet. "The military taught me that."
Click here to view a News9 report on the fatalities at the 7-Eleven and an eyewitness account by another storm chaser.
President Obama has declared a state of emergency in five Oklahoma counties and sent in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support the recovery effort.
Meanwhile, convenience retailers in the area are beginning to report on damages to their sites.
Jeffrey Gordon, senior vice president of field operations for Murphy Oil USA, El Dorado, Ark., told CSP Daily News concerning the tornado, "We are lucky, and we believe all of our employees have been spared. There is some loss of employee personal property. All of our Oklahoma City and surrounding sites are open and operational. Our site in Moore, Okla., is up and running on generator power since early this morning. We will be open to service the community through this crisis."
And Phillips 66, a heritage Oklahoma company with more than a century of operations in the state, will contribute $1 million to the American Red Cross to assist in the relief efforts following the devastating tornadoes that struck Oklahoma yesterday. In addition, the company will match employee and retiree contributions for disaster relief.
"Our company's roots run deep in Oklahoma, and our thoughts and heartfelt prayers go out to the people affected by this disaster," said Greg Garland, chairman and CEO of Houston-based Phillips 66. "We are extremely thankful that all of our employees in Oklahoma and their immediate families are safe. We thank the first responders and medical personnel that came to the rescue of so many."
Pilot Flying J, Knoxville, Tenn., which has four stores in the area--Oklahoma City (2), Emond and Choctaw--provided a statement to CSP Daily News: "Following the devastating May 20 storm that hit the Oklahoma City area and included the tornado in Moore, Okla., the Pilot Flying J family extends our thoughts and prayers to all those who were affected by the storm. Pilot Flying J stores in the region have not sustained any significant damage, and operations and all fuel pumps are up and running. No Pilot Flying J associates or customers on site were injured during the storm."
Tom Liutkus, vice president, marketing and public relations for TravelCenters of America, Westlake, Ohio, told CSP Daily News, "The tornados hit south of our locations. All three of our Oklahoma City sites were unaffected and are operational, [with] minor damage relative to the areas directly impacted."
Click here for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin's OK Strong tornado recovery page.
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