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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus 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