Violent Storms Tear Through Midwest; 3 Dead In Mo.

Friday, May 15th 2009, 7:27 am
By: News On 6

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. – Violent storms tore through four Midwestern states, killing three people in northern Missouri, damaging hundreds of homes and leaving thousands without power.

At least two tornadoes touched down in Missouri's Adair County on Wednesday night, authorities said. One twister destroyed 10 homes in the town of Kirksville, and more than 200 buildings across the county were damaged.

A couple living in a modular home died when their home "just exploded" from the force of the wind, said Adair County coroner Brian Noe. Gustavo Ochoa, a 47-year-old Bank of Kirksville vice president, and Alisha Brune, 29, were newly engaged and had bought the home just two weeks ago, Noe said.

To the west in Sullivan County, a 56-year-old woman died when her mobile home was thrown an estimated 40 feet by the storm, said emergency management director Rick Gardner. The woman's husband, who was working in his wood shop in an adjacent building, survived.

Six other people were treated for minor storm-related injuries at a hospital.

The Kirksville-area tornado was a half-mile wide and stayed on the ground for about a mile and a half, county officials said Thursday morning. The twister scattered cars and glass across a car dealership.

Don Williams rode out the storm in his basement with his wife and four children. He described a "wall of rain shooting sideways" that ripped the roof off his home.

"It just tore everything up," he said. "It was just a blur. Insulation and trees blowing everywhere. I could see stuff just flying through my house." The family spent the night in a motel and Williams told his frightened children, "Don't worry, we'll get a new house."

The latest storms came less than a week after another batch of severe weather, including at least a dozen tornadoes, ravaged parts of southern Missouri. Those storms killed four people and damaged or destroyed several hundred homes.

The National Weather Service said at least five tornadoes touched down Wednesday in Oklahoma, including one that tore roofs off homes and businesses in Anadarko. Three minor injuries were reported in the southwestern Oklahoma town of 6,400 and schools canceled Thursday classes because of widespread power outages.

Anadarko's downtown was in shambles, with pieces of roof and glass shards littering the streets, said Eddie Ladd, who runs an insurance business there. "I'm looking at my roof on the curb here we've been shoveling," he said.

In northeast Oklahoma, a 100 mph wind gust was recorded west of the Bartlesville airport in Washington County, authorities said. The high winds downed trees and power lines, temporarily cutting power to thousands.

Parts of the roof were blown off the Lighthouse Mission homeless shelter in Bartlesville, displacing 15 people staying there, but no one was injured.

Central Indiana saw wind gusts of up to 60 mph and street flooding was reported in Vincennes, Linton and Rockville, authorities said. Utilities reported 8,000 were without power in and around Indianapolis early Thursday.

In Illinois, a range of storms dumped as much as 3 inches of rain within 50 minutes. National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Shimon called the accumulation "unbelievable," comparing it to heavy rainfall in the tropics.

School was canceled Thursday in the southern Illinois town of Gillespie because much of the town was without power and some school buildings were damaged.


Associated Press writers Heather Hollingsworth and Andale Gross in Kansas City, Justin Juozapavicius in Tulsa, Okla., Rochelle Hines in Oklahoma City and Rupa Shenoy in Chicago contributed to this report.