CNN "CNN Situation Room" - Transcript - Oklahoma Tornado


By:  Mary Fallin
Date: June 1, 2013
Location: Unknown


MARQUEZ: Now, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin joins me on the phone from Oklahoma City.

Governor, we are so sorry to hear about the life loss and destruction in your state once again. Do you think the worse is over? Do you think the fatalities and injury numbers will go up any?

GOV. MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA (via telephone): We certainly hope so. We were just taken by surprise, shock that we could have another storm like this in Oklahoma. We weren't surprised the weather got bad, but we just couldn't believe that we were having to go through this all again in such a short period of time after we had such terrible storms the week before.

But I will say the state is responding well. We're good at handling disasters, we were well prepared yesterday. We opened up our command center early, while the sun is still shining, just a couple of clouds in the skies.

We actually had alerted our Department of Transportation to utilize their electronic signs over their highways, that basically said be aware that there is potential for damaging storms from 4:00 to 6:00 tonight and be on the lookout and keep your radios tuned on and watch the newscasts. Stay off the streets. So, we were telling people.

And the highway patrol, local law enforcement in the various counties that were hit did a superb job going up and down the highways with their lights and sirens on to let people know about storms that can be coming up really quickly. And even employers started letting their employees go home at 3:00, 4:00 in the afternoon and storms started coming down about 5:30 to 6:00 on.

And the biggest challenge we had last night was a lot of people, I think -- as far as we can tell, probably left their homes and were going to just find another bigger, secure building somewhere, maybe those that didn't have storm shelters. So, our major intersect got clogged up as the storm that's coming through, both the east and west interstate, north and south interstate were jam-packed with cars which is just a really horrific sight to see. We were worried about the people in the cars. Sure enough, we did lose nine lives, which is terrible.

MARQUEZ: Governor --

FALLIN: Haven't gotten the details yet on how, but we do know we've lost life last night.

MARQUEZ: Is that a function of the emergency system working too well, that too many people went out seeking shelter and got caught up in it?

FALLIN: I think everyone was just on edge about what had happened in Moore. Of course, the tornadoes that hit yesterday weren't of that strength. They were less powerful, but we just knew the conditions were pretty bad. Wind was blowing very hard.

It was hailing. Some are telling me they had baseball-sized hail. One guy said he had 45 holes in his roof from the hail itself.

So, I think some people left work early. Some were just out, going to local hospitals, libraries, office buildings to get down into basements.

Interesting story I heard, we had about 300 people in the major airport here in Oklahoma City, and all of a sudden, the public came to the airport. I heard at one point, it could have been over 1,700 that actually went to the airport to go underground --

MARQUEZ: Oh, wow.

FALLIN: -- in the parking tunnels. That caused a traffic jam.

MARQUEZ: I want to make sure I understand. Do you think the casualties -- we've seen all the casualties we're going to see out of this series of storms? It won't go any higher?

FALLIN: I don't know yet. I mean, that's all that's been reported that the point in time. We certainly hope that it is. Our thoughts and prayers are with those that lost loved ones. We had about 104 different people who were injured in the hospitals that were coming in. I got a report early this morning of a person that was stranded with the flooding.

The flooding has been a big issue last night and today. It kind of took us by surprise. We had a lot of rain last week.

It's interesting. We've been suffering through a big drought the last couple of years and now we have the opposite problem of flooding around the state. Of course, power lines that were down in the damaged areas.

It's been a challenge, and certainly stretching probably the stamina of some of the first responders right now. But everybody is doing well. Everybody is doing their job. We're going to get through this again.

MARQUEZ: Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, our hearts go out to you. Our thoughts are with you. Very, very good luck to you and all the folks out there.

FALLIN: Well, thank you. We sure appreciate the prayers and we appreciate all the help we got from across the nation. It made a big difference for us.

MARQUEZ: Thanks, Governor. Good luck.


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