Missouri battered again by bad weather

Sunday, May 11, 2003

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A week of stormy weather continued Saturday in Missouri, with another storm system moving east through the state.

The most severe damage from the storms appeared to be in the Lewis County town of Canton, about 150 miles northwest of St. Louis, where officials said early reports indicated 20 to 30 houses and 10 mobile homes were damaged. No fatalaties were reported.

Mayor Terry Fretwell told KMOV-TV in St. Louis that the fieldhouse at Culver-Stockton College and a grocery store were destroyed and a motel suffered major damage. There also were reports that a Subway sandwich shop was damaged.

John Campbell, a spokesman for the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, said he was hearing reports of more damage in Lewis County but he had no specific details.

"It sounds pretty substantial," he said.

Four people were taken to Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Ill., and were being evaluated in the emergency room, a hospital administrator said. Other hospitals in the area were prepared for more victims.

Dave Boden, a dispatcher with the Scotland County sheriff's department, said ambulances were sent from his county, along with the nearby counties of Clark and Knox counties.

Matthew Johnson, a public relations coordinator for the Hannibal Regional Hospital, said he was told every emergency vehicle in the area was sent out.

The tornado-packed storms have killed at least 42 people across the Midwest since Sunday -- 18 in Missouri, 15 in Tennessee, seven in Kansas and two in Illinois. Officials have estimated damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Lynn Maximuk, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill, Mo., said funnel clouds were reported Saturday from Boonville to Canton, before the system moved into Quincy, Ill.

In Putnam County, a tornado tore the roofs off some farm buildings and flipped cars, Maximuk said.

A New Hartford man and his daughter escaped a close call Saturday when they tried to drive a small bus through a flash flood between Hartford and Ashley. They were able to swim to tree branches, and emergency workers rescued them by boat.

Tornadoes also were reported seven miles west of Unionville and in Linn County, north of Brookfield. No substantial damage was reported.

Tornadoes also swept through Knox, Lewis, Clark and Scotland counties, uprooting trees, tearing the roofs off outbuildings and downing power lines in some areas, Boden said.

He said deputies sometimes reported seeing more than one tornado at a time. The deputies said the twisters picked up trees and snapped them in half. The tornadoes also spread debris "everywhere," and a few county roads were closed, he said.

Boden said no damaged homes were reported shortly after the storms moved through.

"Fortunately," he said, "it's pretty rural over here."

Thomas Spriggs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said he had received reports of tornadoes in Marion and Shelby counties.

Eastern Kansas and northwest and north-central Missouri had recorded 22 tornadoes between Sunday and early Saturday evening -- more twisters in the area than in the previous two years combined, Maximuk said.

The newest storms come one day after thunderstorms dumped heavy rain onto a good part of Missouri, causing low-level flooding in at least 10 counties. The weather service said that number could grow if there is substantial rainfall Saturday.

Forecasters said after Saturday's storms, there should be a break in the weather until at least Tuesday night.

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