The Latest: 80 staying in shelters after Missouri tornadoes

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The Latest: 80 staying in shelters after Missouri tornadoes

The Associated Press

May 23, 2019 09:17 AM

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The sign for the Hidden Oaks apartment complex in Jefferson City Missouri stands bent on May 23, 2019, from an apparent tornado in front of a tree that was ripped apart. A “violent tornado” touched down in Jefferson City, Missouri, causing possible fatalities, according to the National Weather Service


David A. Lieb

AP Photo


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.

The Latest on severe weather moving across the central United States (all times local):

11:15 a.m.

More than 80 people are staying in shelters in central Missouri after tornadoes ripped through the region.

Tornadoes caused significant damage overnight in Missouri’s capital city of Jefferson City and in Eldon, a town of about 4,900 residents around 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest. The National Weather Service said it was the same storm that hit Jefferson City, though it’s not clear whether it was the same tornado.

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The American Red Cross opened one shelter in Jefferson City and two in Eldon. Spokeswoman Sharon Watson says 50 people were at the Jefferson City shelter as of late morning.

Thirty-two people were staying at a shelter at an Eldon elementary school. Watson didn’t yet have details about how many people were staying at the third shelter, at the Eldon Community Center.

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11:15 a.m.

An Oklahoma town says two barges are again loose and headed down the swollen Arkansas River toward a dam.

The barges near Webbers Falls first became loose Wednesday night, and officials had warned it would be “catastrophic” if they collided with a nearby dam. The two barges became stuck in rocks overnight but somehow broke loose Thursday morning as crews tried to secure them.

Aerial footage from Tulsa television station KOTV shows the pair of barges, apparently still tied together, floating slowly down the river.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation says the Interstate 40 bridge and a state highway bridge remain closed over the Arkansas River at Webber Falls.

Over Memorial Day weekend in 2002, a barge struck the Interstate 40 bridge pier at Webbers Falls, causing part of the bridge to collapse into the Arkansas River. Fourteen people died after their vehicles plunged into the water.

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10:40 a.m.

The National Weather Service says it’s possible that a tornado that left three people dead and one injured in southwest Missouri had a 50-mile path.

Weather Service Meteorologist Cory Rothstein in Springfield, Missouri, said a tornado touched down Wednesday night near Treece, a southeast Kansas ghost town on the Oklahoma border, and then moved northeast.

Officials said a tornado damaged homes in Carl Junction, Missouri, near Joplin and moved through Oronogo and Golden City. Authorities said three people were found dead and one injured outside Golden City.

Rothstein said a single tornado could have been on the ground for 80 minutes.

But he said the Weather Service won’t know for sure whether there was one or multiple tornadoes until two teams finish surveying the storm’s path Thursday.

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9:40 a.m.

A local emergency management official says a few people sustained injuries from a tornado in a town southwest of the Missouri capital of Jefferson City.

Miller County Emergency Management Director Mike Rayhart said Thursday that several of the injuries in Eldon were serious enough to send people to the hospital but he did not have more specifics.

Eldon has about 4,900 residents and is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Jefferson City. The National Weather Service said it was the same storm that hit Jefferson City, though it’s not clear whether it was the same tornado.

Rayhart said the tornado skipped through Eldon, damaged the business district and “tore up several neighborhoods.”

Rayhart said two shelters in Eldon are housing between 60 and 70 people.

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8:45 a.m.

Jefferson City hospitals report treating 19 people after a tornado hit the city overnight.

Jessica Royston, a spokeswoman for SSM St. Mary’s Hospital, said seven people with minor injuries were treated there.

About 12 people suffering minor to moderate injuries such as cuts and bruises were treated at Capital Regional Medical Center.

Spokeswoman Lindsay Huhman says only one person was admitted.

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8:25 a.m.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says an elderly couple and another woman were killed when a powerful storm destroyed their homes in southwest Missouri.

Patrol spokesman Sgt. John Lueckenhoff said the bodies of 86-year-old Kenneth Harris and his 83-year-old wife, Opal, were found about 200 yards from their home outside Golden City Wednesday night.

And 56-year-old Betty Berg died and her husband, Mark, was seriously injured when their mobile home was destroyed just west of Golden City.

The storm also ripped a roof off a fertilizer plant in the area, prompting a precautionary evacuation of 1-mile radius because of a possible chemical leak.

Lueckenhoff said Golden City itself had power lines and trees down but no serious injuries. The town is about 43 miles (69.2 kilometers) northeast of Joplin.

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7:10 a.m.

Damage from a tornado that struck Jefferson City overnight was concentrated in a 3-mile square area in the southern part of the city.

Jefferson City Police Lt David Williams said there are no reports of missing people in the city, but authorities will be making door-to-door checks Thursday.

Williams said no deaths were reported in Jefferson City from the storm that hit the state’s capital shortly before midnight on Wednesday. About 20 people have been rescued.

The storm damaged the roof of a state labor department building but the Capitol and governor’s mansion were not damaged.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson surveyed the hardest hit areas in Jefferson City on Thursday and called the damage “devastating.”

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6:55 a.m.

Flood warnings remain in effect for much of Oklahoma, though forecasters said many rivers have crested and water levels were beginning to drop.

More than 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain has fallen since Sunday in parts of Oklahoma after an already rainy spring.

Near Crescent, about 34 miles (55 kilometers) north of Oklahoma City, erosion left several homes hanging over the swollen Cimarron River. One unoccupied home rolled into the river, and authorities said others could collapse.

In Arkansas, forecasters issued flood warnings along the Arkansas River because of the expected rush of water coming from Oklahoma.

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6:20 a.m.

Gov. Mike Parson says storms that slammed Missouri overnight left devastation across much of the state and it was fortunate that only three fatalities have been reported.

Parson said as of early Thursday authorities are not aware of any other people missing but noted that could change as daylight arrives.

The governor credited the low fatality count to the work of numerous safety and law enforcement agencies for warning people across the state about the impending storms.

The three fatalities were reported near Golden City in southwest Missouri.

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6 a.m.

Authorities say a pair of barges that broke loose on the swollen Arkansas River in Oklahoma and threatened to crash into a dam are now stuck on rocks.

The news Thursday morning comes as a relief in the small town of Webbers Falls, where emergency officials had warned of “catastrophic” flooding if the barges struck the dam. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the barges are still tied together, and crews are working to secure them.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation says the Interstate 40 bridge and a state highway bridge remain closed over the Arkansas River at Webbers Falls as a precaution.

Over Memorial Day weekend in 2002, a barge struck the Interstate 40 bridge pier at Webbers Falls, causing part of the bridge to collapse into the Arkansas River. Fourteen people died after their vehicles plunged into the water.

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5:30 a.m.

A tornado has caused heavy damage in Missouri’s capital city as severe weather swept across the state overnight, causing three deaths and trapping dozens of people in the wreckage of their homes.

The National Weather Service confirmed that the large and destructive tornado moved over Jefferson City shortly before midnight on Wednesday.

Gov. Mike Parson said three people died. Missouri Public Safety said they were killed in the Golden City area of Barton County. The governor is praising first responders who have worked through the night to free people from homes that have been ripped apart in the storm.

Jefferson City Police Lt. David Williams says no deaths were reported in the capital, but 20 people have been rescued by emergency personnel.

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