Tornadoes kill 3 people in Missouri

Thursday, May 14, 2009
A fireman checks for occupants in what use to be a kitchen of a house that was hit by a tornado that touched down in Lakeside Estates Wednesday May 13, 2009 in Kirksville, MO. The city of Kirksville apparently took the hardest hit. Police Det. Sgt. Ron Celian said about 30 to 40 homes were damaged, one was destroyed and an auto dealership sustained significant damage. Two people were injured near the dealership when their car was blown off the road, Celian said. (AP Photo/Al Maglio)

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. (AP) - Violent storms tore through four Midwestern states, killing three people in northern Missouri, damaging dozens of homes and leaving thousands without power.

At least two tornadoes touched down in Adair County Wednesday night, authorities said. In Kirksville, the twister damaged at least 60 buildings and scattered cars and glass across a car dealership. Ten homes were destroyed.

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.

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.

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 r! oof 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."

Six people were treated for storm-related injuries at Northeast Regional Medical Center, but their injuries were considered minor.

The Kirksville-area tornado was one-half mile wide and stayed on the ground for about a mile and a half, county officials said Thursday morning.

In Gillespie, northeast of St. Louis, school was canceled Thursday because much of the town was without power and some school buildings were damaged.

In Caddo County in southwest Oklahoma, where a possible tornado tore roofs off homes and businesses in Gracemont and Anadarko, school officials canceled classes for the day because of widespread power outages.

Dozens of inmates were evacuated from the Caddo County jail because of a gas line break, said Caddo County Emergency Management Director Larry McDuf! fey.

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

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 windy 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.

The storm was continuing in southern Illinois early Thursday, with lightning, heavy rain and strong wind gusts, Shimon said.

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

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

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