3 months later: Elk City slowly recovering after tornado

ELK CITY, Okla. - May 16 was a day people in Elk City will never forget. It was the day a deadly tornado tore through their town.

The storm took the life of 53-year-old Gene “Bo” Mikles and injured many others.

Three months after the storm, the town is slowly recovering.

“I would describe the past three months in Elk City as a time of displacement," said Danny Ringer with the Elk City Fire Department. "Displacement’s the best word for it because we’ve had people who have moved from Elk City. They are not here any longer. We have people that are living with relatives.”

June Pruitt saw it coming.

“Well, I looked out the back door, and I told my daughter and my grandkids, they were with me, and I could see it all gathering up into the funnel," Pruitt said.

Most of her home was destroyed in seconds, and her family survived by taking shelter in a safe room. She and her husband have been living in a travel trailer ever since.

Her son's home, just yards away, was also destroyed. But, one thing that wasn't taken was the town's unity.

“People in western Oklahoma are tough. People in Elk City are a strong people," Ringer said.

“Everybody pitches in and helps the people that are in need," Pruitt said. "I mean, the Red Cross was out here the next day. It was good."

Ringer said some businesses that were destroyed don't plan to return to the town and many homes are still left in piles of rubble.

However, he said 20 building permits have been filed.