Death toll tops 21 as tornadoes tear through US Midwest and South | Environment News

At least 21 people have been killed and dozens more injured after hurricanes and tornadoes devastated towns and cities across the South and Midwest.

Several tornadoes made landfall Friday night across at least eight states, damaging homes and businesses and toppling trees, as part of a widespread storm system that has sparked wildfires. for the southern plains states and blizzard conditions for the upper Midwest.

Tens of thousands of people lost power as the storms covered a large swath of the country of about 85 million people.

The dead include seven in Tennessee, five in neighboring Arkansas and four in Illinois. Other deaths were reported in Indiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

In Arkansas, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency and mobilized 100 members of the National Guard to help local governments respond.

Four of the Arkansas deaths were reported in the town of Wynne, a community of about 8,000 people. The shocked town’s residents woke up Saturday to find the roof of the high school ripped off and windows blown out. Huge trees lay on the ground, their roots shrunk. Walls, windows and roofs were broken, with holes in them for homes and businesses.

Fragments and memories of ordinary life are scattered inside the shells of houses and on lawns: clothing, insulation, roofing paper, toys, broken furniture, a car truck window broken.

Ashley Macmillan told the AP that she, her husband and their children huddled in a small bathroom as the tornado passed, “praying and saying goodbye to each other, because we thought we were dead. ” A fallen tree severely damaged their home, but no one in the family was injured.

“We could feel the house shake, we could hear loud noises, dishes rattled. And then it became calm,” she said.

Restoration is underway, with workers using chainsaws to cut down fallen trees and bulldozers to remove material from the damaged structures. Utility trucks worked to restore power.

residents evacuate
Damaged remains of the Walnut Ridge neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas [Benjamin Krain/ Getty Images]

In the Little Rock area of ​​Arkansas, at least one person was killed and more than two dozen others were injured, some seriously, authorities said.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott said that 2,100 homes and businesses were in the path of the tornado, but there was no estimate of the amount of damage.

Don Nichols, a piano sales manager in Little Rock, said he was hiding under the stairs of his store when the tornado hit.

“We just had a little damage to our store. Only one window was blown off and the ceiling tiles fell down,” he told Al Jazeera. “But the restaurant next to us was closed. The walls have been literally pulled out.”

In Tennessee, at least seven people died in McNairy County, east of Memphis, along the Mississippi border, said David Leckner, mayor of Adamsville.

“Most of the damage has been done to homes and neighborhoods,” Leckner said, adding that while it appears everyone has been counted, rescue teams are still going every step of the way. home to be sure.

‘Everything fell apart’

In Belvidere, Illinois, part of the roof of the Apollo Theater collapsed while about 260 people were attending a heavy metal concert.

“The lights went out, I heard noises. Everything fell apart,” Jessica Hernandez, who was in theaters Friday, told Reuters in an interview. Hernandez, 18, said friends convinced her to attend the concert.

Some spectators pulled a 50-year-old man out of the rubble, but he was already dead by the time paramedics arrived. Officials said 40 others were injured, including two with life-threatening injuries.

“They pulled a man out of the wreckage, I sat with him and I held his hand and I was [telling him] ‘It will be fine.’ I really don’t know what else to do,” concert viewer Gabrielle Lewellyn told WTVO-TV.

Work crews worked on Saturday to clean up around the Apollo, with forklifts pulling loose hanging bricks. Business owners pick up shards of glass and cover broken windows.

Tornado Damage in Sullivan, Indiana
At least three dead in Indiana’s Sullivan County, which declared a state of emergency [Doug McSchooler/ AP]

In Crawford County, Illinois, three other people were killed and eight others injured after a tornado hit around New Hebron, said Bill Burke, county council president.

Sheriff Bill Rutan said 60 to 100 families had been displaced.

“We sent emergency teams to dig people out of the basement because the house collapsed on them, but luckily they had a safe space to go to,” Rutan told a news conference.

Three others died in Indiana’s Sullivan County, near the Illinois border about 150 kilometers southwest of Indianapolis. Officials said a state of emergency was declared for the affected areas.

Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb told reporters an area south of the county seat was home to about 4,000 people “basically unidentifiable at the moment” and several were rescued from the rubble overnight. .

He said there had been reports of 12 injuries and that search and rescue teams were scouring the damaged areas.

Another tornado killed a woman in Madison County, north Alabama, said Mac McCutcheon, a county official. And in Pontotoc County north of Mississippi, officials confirmed one dead and four injured.

Bill Bunting, director of forecasting operations at the Hurricane Prediction Center, said it can take days to determine the exact number of tornadoes. There were also hundreds of reports of heavy hail and damaging winds, he said.

“It was a pretty positive day,” he said. “But that’s not unprecedented.”

More than 530,000 homes and businesses in the affected area lost power Saturday afternoon, more than 200,000 of them in Ohio, according to

The widespread storm system also carried wildfires to the southern Plains, with nearly 100 new fires reported Friday in Oklahoma, according to the state forestry agency.

At least 32 people were injured in the fires, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. There have been reports of more than 40 homes destroyed across the state.

The storms also caused blizzard conditions in the Upper Midwest.
The risk of tornadoes and hail remains in the Northeast, including parts of Pennsylvania and New York.

Storms come after President Joe Biden visit the ruins about a major hurricane that made landfall in Mississippi last week.

A series of thunderstorms created a deadly tornado that devastated the town of Rolling Fork in Mississippi, destroying many of the community’s 400 homes and kill 25 people. One person was killed in neighboring Alabama.

Biden promised to rebuild in Mississippi as meteorologists warn millions of people to brace for major storms forming across at least 15 states in the Midwest and southern United States, with more than 85 million people under weather warnings on Wednesday. Six.

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