At least nine people are dead, including two children, after severe tonadoes tore through the Oklahoma City area for the second time in 11 days, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office confirmed this morning.
Of the fatalities, seven of the victims were found inside their vehicles, Canadian County officials said in a press conference. The storm hit the area at rush hour, as people were leaving work and trying to get home.
The twisters and heavy rains that swept through the area flipped cars and trucks on interstate highways and swept up vehicles in deep flood waters.
Emergency crews have started to repair the flood-damaged roads and bridges, and began clearing trees and other debris from roadways to make it easier for first responders to get to the areas hit by the tornadoes, Canadian County Commissioner Phil Carson said today.
“We haven’t had a chance yet for our team to take a look at the damage out there because the flood waters are still keeping us out of the area,” Keli Cain with Oklahoma Emergency Management told ABC News Radio.
Officials praised the collaborative efforts of emergency responders and law enforcement, as well as the tremendous support from community members who this morning were already assisting those in communities hit by the storm.
“The phrase ‘Oklahoma strong’ is more than just words, it is something that is shown,” said Maj. Thomas Louden, commander for The Salvation Army in a press conference. “We will see the strength of this state, particularly the community, for what we can be as a people.”
“This may not have been the May 3  tornado, but if you lost a loved one or lost a house, it was your equivalent of the May 3 tornado,” Carson said during the press conference, referring to the 1999 tornado in Moore, Okla., that raged through the suburb at more than 300 miles per hour and and killed 36 people.
The National Weather Service initially estimated that five tornadoes touched down in the Oklahoma City area Friday.
Among those who died in the brutal storm were a mother and her baby possibly sucked out of their cars near Interstate 40, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph told ABC News.
“We know that the storm picked them up and swept them away,” Randolph said. “When the troopers found them, they were both deceased.
“We know that a mother and a child were killed tonight on I-40 in Canadian County,” Randolph said. “I cannot stress to you just how important it is that if people don’t have to be out, that they stay inside and seek shelter. … There’s just no safe place to be except underground when a tornado is present.”
The Red Cross opened shelters for those in need at Christ’s Church in Yukon, Okla., and Redlands Community College in El Reno, Okla. In addition, the St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City, which opened on May 20 after a powerful tornado hit Moore, would remain open for storm victims.
The massive E-5 tornado that ripped through Moore 11 days ago killed 24 people, smashing schools and hospitals, and flattening neighborhoods.
Road Congested During Storm
Randolph said the area roads were extremely congested, particularly I-40 and I-35.
“Several spots are impassable whether it’s high water or power lines that are down,” she said. “We’ve had multiple crashes, some of which are probably going to be there for a while as we’re unable to get wreckers to clear the roadway.”
She added that troopers were being told to push vehicles off I-40 to clear the roadway.
Local hospitals reported receiving at least 89 patients, four critical, with three fatalities among them.
Integris Health Southwest, which had three hospitals in the area, reported most of the patients, including the two dead — the mother and baby from I-40. One of its hospitals also had a baby in critical condition.
Mercy Hospital in El Reno reported receiving 13 patients, one dead on arrival and two in critical condition.
Oklahoma University Medical Center, the only level 1 trauma center in the state, reported two adult patients whose conditions were unclear. OU also runs The Children’s Hospital, where there were six pediatric patients, two transferred from Integris.
Gov. Mary Fallin told ABC News Friday evening that there were power outages, flooding and flipped trucks on interstates amid apparent tornados.
“We’re real concerned about the people that are on the highways,” Fallin said, noting the worst of the storm hit during the evening rush hour.
“It hit during a time when people were getting off work,” Fallin said. “They knew the storms where coming in, so people were going home.”
Moore City Manager Steve Eddy, driving around Moore after the latest storm, told ABC News Friday evening that he saw minor flooding and power outages, but no immediate evidence of tornado activity.
There were about 125,000 power outages reported statewide with 95,618 just in the Oklahoma City metro area.
Flash flooding remains the biggest weather threat today as the National Weather Service issued flash flooding warnings for central and eastern Oklahoma.