McAlester/Pittsburg County cleaning up from weekend storms

Apr. 29—Officials said a Sunday tornado that touched down near Crowder before becoming a waterspout as it crossed Lake Eufaula did not cause any damages, with flooding the main cause of damage reported in the area from weekend storms.

Local storm spotters from the McAlester/Pittsburg County Emergency Management began tracking a severe thunderstorm with observed rotation after a report of a small funnel was received near the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.

The storm continued to rotate as it passed over the northwest side of McAlester. The storm eventually produced a tornado to the south of Crowder near the Cardinal Point Recreational Area at approximately 5:20 p.m. Sunday before becoming a waterspout as it traversed Lake Eufaula before lifting as it neared the town.

The storm continued to rotate until it reached the Longtown area before it exited the county. A second tornado-warned storm crossed far Northern potions of the county with no reports of any tornado touchdowns as it crossed into McIntosh County.

The National Weather Service in Tulsa said two crews were out doing damage surveys Monday across eastern Oklahoma with a preliminary raring for the tornado/waterspout to be released later this week.

Lenoard Baughman, deputy director for Pittsburg County/McAlester Emergency Management, said no reports were received from the tornado/waterspout and that the focus was on damage caused by flash flooding.

Data from the Oklahoma Mesonet shows 5.68 inches of rain fell at the McAlester Regional Airport since April 26 with an estimated 5-7 inches falling across the county Saturday night into Sunday morning.

Along with reports of damage to roadways across the county, the city of McAlester is also dealing with damage to the softball complex located on the west side of the city.

City of McAlester Community Services Director Doug Basinger said five to six feet of moving water covered the four ball fields causing damage to the complex.

"This is something that we deal with," Basinger said before stating this is the second time in the10 years he has worked for the city the complex has received this much water.

"But it's never taken out this much fence," Basinger said. "In the concession stand, we were looking at two and a half feet of water."

Basinger said a berm located near the softball complex was breached in three different places and explained the berm holds back water from a creek that receives all the water from the south side of town.

"And when it gets here, it's just got nowhere to go," Basinger said. "It just starts backing up. A lot of people say well make the creek wider and deeper. Well, you can't. You're not allowed by law to change the depth of a creek or the width of a creek or the course of a creek. We're in a hole out here. This used to be a lot higher than it was when it before it was ever a softball complex."

Basinger said co-ed softball games at the complex have been cancelled until further notice and he expects the field to be ready before summer league play begins in July.

He said although it is frustrating, it was a drop in a bucket compared to what other parts of Oklahoma experienced.

"In the big scheme of things, we're looking at it as this isn't somebody's house or somebody's life, or a whole section of downtown," Basinger said. "It is devastating for us right here in this group. But as far as taking the big picture, it's not."

Pittsburg County and McAlester residents who sustained damage from the storms are asked to report damage by contacting the Pittsburg County/McAlester Emergency Management Office at 918-423-5655.

Choctaw Nation tribal members can also report damage to the Choctaw Nation's Emergency Management Office at 1-844-709-6301, or by email at