KINGSTON, Okla. (KFOR) – The cleanup and rebuild for residents of Kingston began Tuesday after an EF2 tornado ripped through town destroying at least 100 homes and several other businesses over a span of about 30 miles.
This is the second time that a tornado has devastated Marshall County in the past two years, going back to April of 2020. This one left massive damage in its path, especially in Buncombe Creek area, which is just southwest of the town of Kingston near Lake Texoma. Structures on one side of the street are still standing, while just feet on the other side is complete destruction of several homes and a local church.
Only a little piece of home is left standing for Marcy Lamar, but it just so happens to be the part that saved she and 12 of her friends lives.
“I’m being watched out for, for sure,” said Lamar holding back tears. “Somebody higher than us was there, because there’s no reason why we should have lived, we don’t have anything left.”
Lamar was hosting a girl’s night on Monday. She said they had the news on. They eventually looked out the window when they heard a loud noise.
“I just told the girls to run,” Lamar said. “We were trying to get to the bathroom but got stuck in the laundry room in the kitchen.”
After it passed, they stepped out of a small area to see their home and everything around them destroyed. The only thing left somewhat standing was what they were all hiding in.
“We didn’t have shoes on, no vehicles to drive, yeah, complete helplessness,” Lamar said. “A few of us had to dig out but from the debris, most everybody made it out all right.”
Lamar and other residents are now left picking up the pieces in a field of rubble around the church, just hoping to find valuables.
“My wedding ring and he had a knife collection and just stuff I had,” she said. “I had letters from my dad’s in when he was in Vietnam. I was born when he was in Vietnam.”
Lamar said she found some of those things but is still missing others.
Sheet metal, steel beams and insulation among several other things were strewn down US 70 back east of Kingston. An entire storage facility was also completely destroyed along with several homes and businesses. Just east of town a man named Max Ponder and his family were working on cleaning up what was going to be their restaurant, the Sterling Steer Steakhouse. They planned to open it up in just a few weeks.
“It’s going to be a real challenge,” Ponder said. “We’ll be able to get this thing going. It’s just going to take a lot longer than we anticipated now.”
Luckily, they were not inside when it hit. Now, they’re just trying to weatherproof it after the roof was torn up. Damage back behind their restaurant can be seen as well. That’s also where 79-year-old Clara Chill’s home has sat since 1975.
“I got up that middle of the room and it hit,” Chill said. “The house just was shaking, and I was just terrified.”
And you said your house is still standing?” KFOR asked.
“It is. It’s a miracle,” she said.
All saying they’re thankful to be alive with something that could have had a much different outcome. Now, residents are looking to rebuild the town they call home.
“My family’s safe. That’s all I care about,” Ponder said. “You know, there’s nothing that can’t be replaced. I mean, it’s beat up hard and I think we can fix it.”
“It’s going to rebuild eventually,” Lamar said. “So, it’s a long, hard road for many of us.”
Only one critical injury was reported, and that person was taken to the hospital. Their status is unknown. No fatalities were reported on the Oklahoma side, although a fatality was reported in Texas on Sherman Shores across Lake Texoma. Officials also reported about 7,000 people without power around southern Oklahoma where the tornado hit.