Storms hit Ripley, Butler, Stoddard counties in Missouri; no injuries reported

Thursday, February 7, 2008

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- A tornado caused extensive damage as it roared across southern Ripley, Butler and Stoddard counties in Southeast Missouri Tuesday night, but no injuries were reported Wednesday morning.

Houses, mobile homes and barns were destroyed, trees were ripped apart and power poles were snapped off, causing power lines to block traffic.

Some election counts were affected by the storm and area basketball games were delayed or rescheduled for today.

"Three single level houses were severely damaged on County Road 653 east of Broseley [in Butler County] at 8:15 p.m.," Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs said. "There were a lot of trees down and debris scattered everywhere."

He also reported outbuildings destroyed along Highway BB south of Harviell, Mo.

Most of the damage occurred in Ripley County, where the path of the tornado began near Burr, Ark., on the Missouri/Arkansas state line at 7:40 p.m., according to the Ripley County Emergency Management Agency.

Officials told the National Weather Service the path of the tornado was 200-300 yards wide as it moved northeast across Ripley County. There was various degrees of damage to six homes, four barns and one commercial building. No injuries were reported.

At 7:45 p.m., numerous trees and power lines were reported down across county roads from Poynor, Mo., to Current View, Mo.

A mobile home near Oxly, Mo. owned by Mel and Bridget Ausmus was flipped over and smashed against a tree. They were not at home.

A trained weather spotter reported dime size hail along Ripley County Road 409 south of U.S. Highway 160 at 8 p.m.

Butler County Emergency Management Agency Director Rick Sliger received unconfirmed reports of a tornado along Highway 160 and south of Harviell. Hail measuring three-fourths of an inch was reported in Ripley and Butler counties.

ROUTE 25 CLOSED

Occupants of two vehicles on Highway 25 north of Bernie, Mo., were trapped between downed power lines when power poles were snapped off by the high winds.

"Highway 25 will be closed 24-36 hours while crews replace a ton of poles," Stoddard County Emergency Management Agency Director John Prance said this morning. He reported AmerenUE is replacing 14 poles along Highway 25 and four along Route H east of the ZZ junction.

The closure was still in place just before 3 p.m. today.

"Only three or four residents in Stoddard County were without power today," Prance said.

POWER OUTAGES

Stan Estes, general manager at Ozark Border Electrical Cooperative, said 2,000 people were out of power because of the winds Tuesday night, but crews had the lights back on by midnight.

Power outages for the electrical company took place from 8:30 to 9 p.m., Estes said. Damaging winds came straight through Tucker, Mo., south of Doniphan, Mo., southwest of Naylor, Mo., north of Neelyville, Mo., and ended in Broseley, Mo.

Damage appeared to be caused by a tornado, according to Estes, who said roofs of buildings and tree limbs broke 12 electrical poles.

High school basketball games at Dexter, Mo., Malden, Mo., Kennett, Mo., and Broseley were delayed.

"It wasn't near the damage we had on the 29th of January," said Estes, referring to the wind storm, which affected an estimated 8,000 to 9,000 customers.

TABULATION HALTED

Sliger sounded the tornado warning sirens in Poplar Bluff at 7:55 p.m. and notified Butler County Clerk Tonyi Deffendall to move everyone to the courthouse basement until the storm passed. Approximately half of the ballots had been counted when Deffendall, her staff and several election judges went to the basement for about 25 minutes.

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