News / USA

US Storm System Kills 19, Tornado Hits Mississippi

  • Raella Faulkner, at left, and Bobby McElroy survey what's left of their home, April 28, 2014, after a tornado struck the town of Vilonia, Arkansas late Sunday.
  • Elquin Gonzalez, owner of the Texaco gas station on North Gloster Street in Tupelo, Mississippi, begins cleaning up his business after a tornado touched down, April 28, 2014.
  • Jimmy Sullinger, sits and watches lightning as a storm approaches the gas station where he works, April 28, 2014, in Berry, Alabama.
  • Deanna Locke, 17, and her siblings including, from left, Charlotte, Drew, and Trinity examine a downed tree across the street from their home in Tupelo, Mississippi, after a suspected tornado moved through town, April 28, 2014.
  • Connie Krehel looks through debris after her home was hit by a tornado, April 28, 2014, in Vilonia, Arkansas.
  • Tornado damage is surveyed in Quapaw, Oklahoma, April 28, 2014.
  • Sherry Lee hugs her brother-in-law Andy Lee, April 28, 2013 after a tornado destroyed her home Sunday on Cemetery Street in Vilonia, Arkansas.
  • Piles of debris is all that's left to homes located off Cemetery Street in Vilonia, Arkansas, after a tornado struck the town, April 28, 2014.
  • A tornado-damaged home awaits cleanup and repairs after a tornado hit the region, Baxter Springs, Kansas, April 28, 2014.
  • An electricity distribution tower was toppled over after a tornado system ripped through several states, near Mayflower, Arkansas, April 28, 2014.
  • A row of lightly damages houses, top, face a row of destroyed homes after a tornado struck the town killing at least 16 people, Vilonia, Arkansas, April 28, 2014.
  • A travel trailer was thrown on its side after a tornado struck, Mayflower, Arkansas, April 28, 2014.
  • Stumps of trees remain after a tornado damaged the tops of them in the town of Mayflower, Arkansas, April 27, 2014.
  • Tornadoes ripped through the south-central United States killing at least 12 people in Arkansas and Oklahoma, leaving a trail of debris, Mayflower, Arkansas, April 27, 2014.
  • A thunderstorm supercell passes over the area with the potential of becoming a tornado, Hampton, Arkansas, April 24, 2014.
Deadly U.S. Tornadoes

Related Articles

Reuters
On a second day of ferocious storms that have claimed at least 19 lives in the southern United States, a tornado tore through the Mississippi town of Tupelo on Monday causing widespread destruction to homes and businesses, according to witnesses and local emergency officials.

At least one person was killed in the city of about 35,000 in the northeast of the state and the birthplace of Elvis Presley.

Most of the deaths from the violent storms occurred on Sunday when tornadoes tossed cars like toys in Arkansas and other states.
 
Tornadoes in U.S. April 27-28Tornadoes in U.S. April 27-28
x
Tornadoes in U.S. April 27-28
Tornadoes in U.S. April 27-28
Monday's twister went through the north and west of Tupelo at about 3 p.m. (1800 GMT), damaging hundreds of homes and businesses, downing power lines and toppling trees, according to the National Weather Service.

"It was real bad. We're trying to pull people out," Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre, told Reuters, referring to emergency crews going house to house, searching damaged buildings.

"It's a very serious situation," said Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton. "I am just encouraging everyone to stay inside and be weather aware. There is still a very real danger of another line coming through and people still need to be inside.

"Main roads in and out of Tupelo were closed and the city announced a 9 p.m.(0200 GMT) curfew. Some residential areas were closed off as emergency crews checked downed power lines and gas leaks.

Residents whose homes were destroyed took refuge in a Red Cross shelter at a downtown sports arena.

"I heard snapping and I said, 'Get down on the floor!' And then the trees started falling over," said Moe Kirk Bristow of Tupelo.

"Three trees fell on her house, one which flattened my car port and two cars and almost every big tree in her neighborhood was felled," Bristow said.

"I haven't seen a house yet that doesn't have a tree through it or on it, so it's bad," she added.

Social security worker Adrian Brim described receiving a text message from her teenage sons who were home with her husband that said, "the house is shaking" as the twister passed.

"I was just praying God would take care of them," she said.

The house survived with roof and fence damage, she said.

Another woman, Reginia DeWalt said she was awakened when the tornado went by. "It sounded like a big pressure washer - but worse," she said.

Parts of Alabama, western Georgia and Tennessee also were at risk as the storm system that produced the series of tornadoes headed east toward the Mid-Atlantic states. Rescue workers, volunteers and victims have been sifting through the rubble in the hardest-hit state of Arkansas, looking for survivors in central Faulkner County where a tornado reduced homes to splinters, snapped power lines and mangled trees.

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe said at least 15 people had died statewide in the storm that authorities said produced the first fatalities of this year's U.S. tornado season. He previously told a news conference 16 had been killed but later said there was a mistake in calculation.

Nine of the victims on Sunday came from the same street in the town of Vilonia, with a population of about 4,100, where a new intermediate school set to open in August was heavily damaged by a tractor trailer blown into its roof. A steel farm shop anchored to concrete was erased from the landscape.

Beebe told reporters of the capricious nature of tornadoes. He said a woman died when the door of her home's reinforced safe room collapsed, while a father and three daughters survived by seeking shelter in a bathtub that was flipped over in winds that leveled the house.

The Arkansas National Guard was deployed to sift through the wreckage. Beebe declared a state of disaster for Faulkner and two other counties.

One person was killed in neighboring Oklahoma and another in Iowa, state authorities said.

A tornado in Baxter Springs, Kansas, that touched down on Sunday evening destroyed as many as 70 homes and 25 businesses and injured 34 people of whom nine were hospitalized, state and county officials said. One person was killed in Kansas, likely due to the same storm system, officials said.

'Long Road to Healing'

"Everything is just leveled to the ground," Vilonia resident Matt Rothacher said. "It cut a zig-zag right through town."

Rothacher was at home with his wife and four children when the tornado passed through. While his home survived, The Valley Church where he serves as pastor was flattened.

Two elementary school-aged boys died in their home after having a pizza dinner at a friend's home, said Rothacher, who was helping provide grief counseling to the family that had sent the two boys home after they finished their meal as the storm approached.

The home that the boys left survived the tornado. The home the boys returned to did not, Rothacher said.

"These homes, these lives, won't be put back together anytime soon," he said. "It will be a long road to healing for these families."

The White House said President Barack Obama, who has been on a trip abroad, called Beebe to receive an update on the damage and to offer his condolences.

Medical officials reported at least 100 people in Arkansas were injured.

"It's so heartbreaking. I've never seen destruction like this before," U.S. Representative Tim Griffin told reporters after touring Vilonia, which was previously hit by a tornado about three years ago. "I saw a Dr. Seuss book in the rubble. I saw a Spider-Man shirt in the rubble. It just breaks your heart."

The roar of heavy equipment filled the air in Vilonia and nearby Mayflower as crews worked to clear debris off the streets or to load rubble onto trucks for removal.

The National Weather Service said the threat of tornadoes will last for several days as a strong weather system interacts with a large area of unstable air across the central and southern United States.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for four counties where tornadoes hit on Friday and warned that more rough weather was on the way.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs