Nelda Dugger is thankful her family helped her after storm winds blew a large tree onto her house.

High winds from storms swept through southeast Oklahoma on Thursday night and damaged businesses and homes across Pittsburg County. Dugger, a 79-year-old Hartshorne resident, woke up Friday morning to see a large tree was uprooted in the storm and destroyed her front porch.

“I heard something, like a crashing noise in part of the night but I thought it was just part of the storm,” said Dugger, who wasn’t hurt. Dugger said she didn't learn about the tree on her house until her nephew informed her around 5:30 a.m. the next morning.

Several family members came to check on her and help her start removing the tree and make calls to the insurance company.

She and the family believe the tree fell slowly and came to a rest on the porch as some of the taller branches of the fallen tree now hang over Dugger’s bedroom.

“I was glad God was looking after me,” Dugger said. “It was just a shock. It’s a very large tree.”

Dugger’s entire front porch was damaged by the fallen tree and blocks the front entrance, but the entirety of the damage is still being assessed.

An automated weather system at the McAlester Regional Airport operated by the National Weather Service registered 64 mph wind gusts. A Oklahoma Mesonet site in Stuart recorded 61 mph wind gusts during the storm.

Several McAlester News-Capital readers submitted photos of damage across Pittsburg County — fallen trees, sheds and trampolines blown away; a camper was put on its side by the winds, and more.

Pittsburg County Emergency Management encouraged anyone with storm damage to report it by calling 918-423-5655.

City of McAlester officials said the McAlester landfill will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting May 8 and ending May 10 for free tree and limb disposal for city residents.

Brian West, the owner of Rover Taxi and OK Lawn and Pest Control in McAlester, said his businesses were recovering from COVID-19 impacts before he arrived Friday morning to find part of the roof blown off and water damage inside the office.

“It’s just a lot,” West said.

West said he was going through the process for the EIDL advances last week to help with financial impacts from the coronavirus pandemic and has changed staffing and hours.

But employees and some furloughed workers came to help remove drenched ceiling tiles, move soaked furniture, and pick up other pieces at the business, West said.

“Some of them said they just wanted to come help,” West said.

West said he appreciated the help and is working to make sure they have jobs in the future.

He said he already filed an insurance claim through State Farm and a Tulsa company is scheduled Saturday to remove the solar panels so repairs can be made to the entire roof.

West said local businesses will be used to make repairs to the building.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at

Staff writer Derrick James contributed to this report.

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