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Normanites see property damage, power outages, flooding in wake of severe hailstorm

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Hail damage

A car that suffered hail damage during the hailstorm April 28.

Several OU community members described property damage following a Wednesday night hailstorm, featuring flooding and power outages across several areas of Norman.

The National Weather Service said the storm created up to 80 mph winds and baseball-sized hail, and Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s System Watch reported 16 outages with 2,341 customers affected in Norman at 10:50 p.m.

Norman Mayor Breea Clark tweeted a storm advisory announcing the closure of Franklin Road between Porter Avenue and 12th Avenue NE, between 12th Avenue NE and east of 24th Avenue NE, Robinson Street between Porter Avenue and 12th Avenue NE, and Rock Creek Road between 48th Avenue NW and 60th Avenue NW until further notice due to high water. 

According to the tweet, Clark reminded drivers “to respect all roadway barricades” and turn around to avoid high water. She wrote Norman residents can report damage to personal property to the state Online Damaging Report website and damage to city street lights or traffic signals to the Norman Traffic Control at 405-329-0528. 

Clark wrote in a Facebook comment she also experienced personal damage, as her family truck’s windshield and her son’s bedroom window are broken.

“These are all crazy stories, Norman, and I am so sorry,” Clark wrote. “We have been through so much! I will continue to post updates and any sort of mechanism for collecting data on the damage if we intend to do so. Stay strong!”

Steve Bowen, head of catastrophe insight at Aon Insurance, said in an article from The Washington Post the damage “almost certainly exceeds $1 billion,” as hail swaths significantly impacted San Antonio, Fort Worth Dallas and Norman.

Rick Smith, the warning coordination meteorologist at NWS Norman, tweeted that Norman residents need multiple ways of receiving a severe weather warning and wrote the warning did not go live on OKC TV due to President Joe Biden’s address to Congress. 

“For a lot of people, a cut-in on TV is probably their first (and maybe only) notification about a warning in their area,” Smith wrote. “This is another in a never-ending list of examples of why everyone needs multiple ways to receive a warning!! And another reason why you should never ignore a warning because it's 'only a severe thunderstorm.'”

Smith tweeted about the first thunderstorm warning at 8:28 p.m. in Norman and mentioned “the potential for golfball size hail and 60 mph winds.” Two updates were issued, one at 8:34 p.m. with golfball-sized hail and 70-mph threats and a second at 8:45 p.m., upgrading to baseball-sized hail and 80-mph winds. 

OU environmental sustainability sophomore Carmen Gonser wrote in a text message to The Daily her apartment and her car at Broadmoor 24 apartments were damaged during the hailstorm starting at 8:55 p.m, which is when her first window broke.

“The window in my living room was completely shattered. Every panel of the window is gone and the entry area of my apartment was standing in water, with hail flying in as far as down my hallway to the other side of my apartment,” Gonser wrote. “It’s possible the baseboards and floors could have water damage as there was about 1/2 inch of water standing. My car was also damaged pretty badly. The windshield shattered, the grill was broken in, my headlights are broken, and my mirror had a hole in it.”

Gonser wrote she and her boyfriend Jacob Martin covered the broken window with cardboard and blankets to keep themselves safe from the hailstorm overnight. She wrote it was “nerve-wracking” to know they were exposed to the outside, making it difficult to sleep. 

“Our maintenance people at this complex are always so great, honestly. As soon as the sun was up, their crew was out here boarding up windows and repairing damages,” Gonser wrote. “We haven’t been notified of their plans with our specific situation, but many here had almost all their windows broken, so I understand their priorities are likely focused there. They’ll likely be working all day to clean up and repair stuff.”

Last night’s hailstorm made Gonser “hysterical” as she remembered how a tornado destroyed her house in Woodward, Oklahoma in April 2012. She wrote she is thankful that all losses are material.

“I was pretty shook up over the storms last night, but today I’m just thankful nobody was hurt. In 2012 my house was destroyed by a tornado in my hometown, so the second I heard the first shatter of glass, I was hysterical,” Gonser wrote. “I’m just happy that it was all repairable damage, and I’m so fortunate that we received only a few damages. Finding a windshield repair person may be a struggle with the high demand, but it’s truly such a blessing that my windshield is my biggest concern.

Marien López-Medina is an international student and United World Colleges alumna from Nicaragua. She is majoring in journalism with a minor in public and nonprofit administration and works as a news reporter for The Daily.

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