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Tornadoes kill 3 people in Missouri

Thursday, May 14, 2009 | 8:33 a.m. CDT

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

Kirksville took the hardest hit Wednesday night. Police Detective Sgt. Ron Celian said the storm damaged 30 to 40 homes, flipped cars and shattered windows at a car dealership. One home was destroyed.

"It just tore everything up," said Don Williams, who rode out the storm in his basement with his wife and four children. "It was just a blur. Insulation and trees blowing everywhere. I could see stuff just flying through my house."

Sullivan County Emergency Management director Rick Gardner said a woman was killed Wednesday night when what appeared to be a tornado struck a mobile home east of Milan in Sullivan County.

Two other people died in a neighborhood near the car dealership, said Adair County coroner Brian Noe. Authorities did not release the victims' names pending notification of family members.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Brent Bernhardt said the Adair County sheriff flew over the area to inspect the damage and said in some places the tornado was 500 feet wide.

"It was not wide," Bernhardt said. "It would be on the ground and then come back up and be on the ground again."

In Caddo County in southwest Oklahoma, a possible tornado damaged homes and businesses in Gracemont and Anadarko, authorities said.

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

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, which left about 8,000 customers without power as of Thursday morning.

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 homes.

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

 


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