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5 Tornado Ghost Towns

Chris Dolce
Published: March 27, 2013

Picher, Oklahoma

Picher, Okla. EF4 Tornado Damage

Picher, Okla. EF4 Tornado Damage

NOAA

Image credit: National Weather Service Tulsa, Okla.

  • Picher, Okla. EF4 Tornado Damage
  • Picher, Okla. EF4 Tornado Damage
  • Picher, Okla. EF4 Tornado Damage
  • Picher, Okla. EF4 Tornado Damage
  • Picher, Okla. EF4 Tornado Damage
  • Picher, Okla. EF4 Tornado Damage

The once-thriving zinc and lead mining town of Picher, Okla. was declared to be uninhabitable in 1996 by the EPA. Decades of mining resulted in pollution and many homes and businesses were undermined by deteriorating mines.

Twelve years later on May 10, 2008, an EF4 tornado was the last straw for those that remained in the northeast Oklahoma town. More than 100 homes in a 20-block area in Picher were destroyed and six people were killed.

After the tornado struck, the EPA provided additional funding to help quicken the pace of the buyout and relocation of Picher's residents.

The town ceased all official business by September 2009.


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