3 Deaths in MO as Tornado Hits Capital 05/23 06:09

3 Deaths in MO as Tornado Hits Capital 05/23 06:09

   A "violent tornado" touched down in Jefferson City, causing heavy damage in 
Missouri's capital city as severe weather swept across the state overnight, 
causing three deaths and leaving many people trapped in the wreckage of their 
homes.

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A "violent tornado" touched down in Jefferson 
City, causing heavy damage in Missouri's capital city as severe weather swept 
across the state overnight, causing three deaths and leaving many people 
trapped in the wreckage of their homes.

   The service reported that a "confirmed large and destructive tornado" was 
observed over Jefferson City at 11:43 p.m. Wednesday, moving northeast at 40 
mph (64 kph). The capital city has a population of about 40,000 and is located 
about 130 miles (209 kilometers) west of St. Louis.

   "Across the state, Missouri's first responders once again responded quickly 
and with strong coordination as much of the state dealt with extremely 
dangerous conditions that left people injured, trapped in homes, and tragically 
led to the death of three people," Governor Mike Parson said. "I want our 
responders and all the neighbors who acted selflessly to help their neighbors 
to know how much their heroic efforts are appreciated by all Missourians."

   Missouri Public Safety confirmed in a tweet that three people were killed in 
the Golden City area of Barton County, and several injured in the Carl Junction 
area of Jasper County

   Jefferson City Police Lt. David Williams said around 2:15 a.m. Thursday that 
there were no reports of fatalities in the capital, but authorities had 
received multiple calls of people being trapped in homes. The tornado hit 
during a week that has seen several days of tornadoes and torrential rains in 
parts of the Southern Plains and Midwest.

   "It's a chaotic situation right now," Williams said.

   Williams spoke from the Cole County Sheriff's office, where debris including 
insulation, roofing shingles and metal pieces lay on the ground outside the 
front doors.

   Area hospitals did not see an immediate influx of patients but set up 
command centers in case the need arises.

   "We have four patients with minor injuries," said Jessica Royston, 
spokeswoman at St. Mary's Health Center.

   Power outages were reported in parts of the city.

   Missouri Public Safety tweeted that there was a possibility of more 
tornadoes and flash flooding.

   Austin Thomson, 25, was in the laundry room of his apartment complex to do 
his wash and noticed the wind started picking up. He saw sheets of rain coming 
down and a flagpole bend and then slam to the ground. The windows broke and he 
dove behind the washers and dryers.

   After it calmed down, he walked outside to check the damage.

   "There's basically one building that's basically one story now. Every 
building there is two stories."

   The National Weather Service said it had received 22 reports of tornadoes by 
late Wednesday, although some of those could be duplicate reporting of the same 
twister.

   One tornado skirted just a few miles north of Joplin, Missouri, on the 
eighth anniversary of a catastrophic tornado that killed 161 people in the 
city. The tornado caused some damage in the town of Carl Junction, about 4 
miles (6.44 kilometers) north of the Joplin airport.

   Storms and torrential rains have ravaged the Midwest, from Texas through 
Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.

   Two barges broke loose and floated swiftly down the swollen Arkansas River 
in eastern Oklahoma on Wednesday, spreading alarm downstream as they threatened 
to hit a dam.

   Authorities urged residents of several small towns in Oklahoma and Kansas to 
leave their homes as rivers and streams rose.

   The Arkansas River town of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, was one such town. Town 
officials ordered a mandatory evacuation Wednesday afternoon because of the 
river's rising level.

   But Wednesday evening, a posting on the town's official Facebook page 
sounded the alarm about the runaway barges for its 600 residents: "Evacuate 
Webbers Falls immediately. The barges are loose and has the potential to hit 
the lock and dam 16. If the dam breaks, it will be catastrophic!! Leave now!!"

   There was no word by midnight Wednesday where the barges were on the river, 
but local television stations showing live video of the river and the lock and 
dam said they had not yet arrived.

   The Arkansas River was approaching historic highs, while the already high 
Missouri and Mississippi Rivers were again rising after a multi-day stretch of 
storms that produced dozens of tornadoes. Forecasters predicted parts of 
Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas could see more severe weather on Thursday.

   Deaths from this week's storms include a 74-year-old woman found early 
Wednesday morning in Iowa. Officials there say she was killed by a possible 
tornado that damaged a farmstead in Adair County. Missouri authorities said 
heavy rain was a contributing factor in the deaths of two people in a traffic 
accident Tuesday near Springfield.

   A fourth weather-related death may have occurred in Oklahoma, where the 
Highway Patrol said a woman apparently drowned after driving around a barricade 
Tuesday near Perkins, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northeast of Oklahoma 
City. The unidentified woman's body was sent to the state medical examiner's 
office to confirm the cause of death. Oklahoma Department of Emergency 
Management spokeswoman Keli Cain said she isn't yet listed as what would be the 
state's first storm-related death.


(KA)

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