Tornado-struck US town rattled by new storm


This shattered town, still searching for survivors from one of the strongest tornadoes on record, was rattled early Wednesday after a new storm unleashed deadly twisters in neighboring US states. A series of tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma late Tuesday, killing four people in a rural county and injuring another 60 across the state, according to local officials, who said the tornadoes narrowly missed the state capital. The belt of severe weather stretched across Oklahoma, northern Texas and Kansas, where two people died when high winds hurled a tree into a van on a highway, according to the state’s emergency management agency.
In Arkansas at least one person was killed early Wednesday when a tornado swept through the small town of Denning, home to some 270 people, according to Tommy Jackson, a spokesman for the state’s emergency management agency. The fresh storms frightened residents in Missouri, where rescue workers in the town of Joplin are still searching for survivors and shocked residents have been digging their belongings out of the ruins of their homes.
But by early Wednesday the storm appeared to have passed over the town without major incident, according to satellite imagery from the National Weather Service. A massive mile-wide funnel cloud, with winds of up to 200 miles (320 kilometers) an hour, tore through Joplin with devastating force late Sunday, leaving 123 people dead and hundreds more missing. Joplin city manager Mark Rohr told reporters that rescue efforts were driven by an increasing sense of urgency, saying: “People’s lives are at stake.”
“We are still in search and rescue mode, and will be for the foreseeable future,” he said after the disaster flattened much of this town of some 50,000 people. Officials said the tornado ranks as the eighth deadliest in American history and the deadliest single twister to strike the United States since modern records began in 1950. It has already exceeded the toll of a tornado in Flint, Michigan in 1953 that left 116 people dead. More than 8,000 structures in this town bordering the heartland states of Kansas and Oklahoma were damaged or destroyed when the twister came roaring through with just a 24-minute warning.
It cut a swath of destruction four miles (6.4 kilometers) long and three quarters of a mile (more than a kilometer) wide. Brandon Hicks, 26, was on an out-of-town fishing trip when the twister struck, but came home to discover that his house and his brother’s house across the street were destroyed. “We’re trying to get everything salvaged, before the next storm hits,” Hicks said as he sorted through the ruins.
Not far away, Lauren Miller, 23, wiped away tears as she sorted through family photos picked from the wreckage of her grandmother’s home. Miller’s grandmother, who took shelter in the cellar with a neighbor as the house collapsed on top of them, survived.