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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More