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Tornados rake Midwest, rain washes out holiday in Northeast

May 26, 1997

Tornadoes slammed the Plains, causing widespread damage from Kansas into northern Texas while heavy rain postponed the Indianapolis 500 auto race and was blamed in at least one death.

Pennsylvania State Police said Marc Lucas, 40, apparently drowned Sunday when he was sucked down by rushing water as he cleaned a drain on his land in Nottingham Township.

A record 2 1/2 inches of rain fell in Pittsburgh, where mudslides closed roads. Rescuers pulled two rafters from a roiling Loyalhanna Creek about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh.

It was miserably wet across the Northeast and Midwest on Sunday. Baseball games in New York and Philadelphia were rained out and the big race in Indianapolis was delayed until today.

Tornados knocked over power lines, trees and empty rail cars in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas late Sunday. No injuries were reported.

A trailer was flipped over in Comanche, Okla., and there was widespread minor damage near Purcell, Okla., about 40 miles south of Oklahoma City.

``Thought? I knew we were dead,″ said Nanette Williams, who rode out the storm with her 14-year-old daughter, Kim Shubert, after their mobile home was knocked off its foundation.

The mother and daughter lost everything, including a new computer. They found two of their three cats before dark; Fluffy was still missing.

A neighbor, Jeanie Green, found a mattress and ceiling fan in a tree across the road from her property.

Clyda and Justin Whitefield fled as a tornado approached. As they pulled into Wayne, five miles away, they looked back and saw the funnel cloud.

``That’s going right through our house,″ Whitefield said he told his wife.

They returned to find most of the roof gone and one wall collapsed. The couple, married less than a year, also lost their new barn.

At least six tornadoes touched down along the Red River in northern Texas but no one was injured. High winds blew down trees and damaged roofs.

``Everything’s a mess,″ said Dee Hazle of the Cooke County Sheriff’s Department. ``But, I don’t have anything as being obliterated.″

In Kansas, one empty home was destroyed by a tornado and campers east of Wichita were told to move to safer territory Sunday night.