Nine Killed in Weekend Tornadoes, Storms

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Powerful storms again swept across the Midwest and beyond, knocking out power to thousands of customers and spawning tornadoes that leveled buildings and hurled mobile homes through the air. At least nine deaths were blamed on the storms during the weekend and on Monday.

One storm destroyed 50 homes and killed a man Sunday in Marengo, Ind., a town of 800 people about 35 miles northwest of Louisville, Ky. About 100 people took shelter at a high school when the storm struck. Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan planned Monday to fly over areas hit by the storm — only three days after his last such trip.

"It's the worst thing I've ever been through. It was loud and noisy, windy. It was unreal," said Marengo resident Howard Lincoln, 49, who rode out the tornado under his Bronco, and later found his home still standing but knocked four feet off its foundation. "I feel lucky, totally lucky. When you look up and see that thing on top of you, you don't know what to think."

The National Weather Service (news - web sites) said Monday it estimated the maximum wind speed in the tornado that hit Marengo at 170 mph.

After generating tornadoes during the weekend, the storm system continued toward the east and south on Monday, producing heavy rain along an arc from Louisiana to Virginia.

The rain caused widespread flooding early Monday in hilly southern West Virginia, and one man drowned in Wyoming County, authorities said. His wife was hospitalized.

Flooding and mudslides washed out bridges and covered roads in West Virginia, isolating communities throughout Mingo, Logan and Wyoming counties including the city of Williamson, which got 4.25 inches of rain in 24 hours, local officials and the National Weather Service said.

West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise declared a state of emergency Monday for the three counties. He had issued a similar declaration Friday for seven other counties pummeled by an earlier series of storms.

Also on Monday, a 7-year-old girl was killed in Giles, Tenn., when high wind collapsed a wall in her home, said supervisor Dan Creasy of the Giles County Ambulance Service.

At least 21 other people were injured in Tennessee when the line of thunderstorms ripped apart homes, destroyed a campground, knocked over trees and flooded streets, officials said. Utilities reported some 19,000 customers without power in the Chattanooga area.

Another man was killed Sunday in Missouri by a tree that slammed onto his car. On Saturday, high wind was blamed for two deaths in Kansas and three in Missouri.

The weekend storms also ripped through parts of Nebraska and Kansas.

In Indiana, one powerful storm raked across the south side of Indianapolis on Sunday, ripping the roof off a nursing home while 50 residents were inside. They were evacuated, many wrapped in sheets and blankets.

"Everything was going up in the air," said Brenda Edwards, 26, who works at a restaurant about seven miles southeast of downtown Indianapolis. "We went inside and got in the cooler."

Rain delayed the start of the Indianapolis 500 and forced a nearly two-hour interruption. Nearby, the National Weather Service said it saw evidence of a tornado touchdown close to its office on the southwest side of the city.

Sunday's storms knocked out power to more than 130,000 customers in Illinois and the St. Louis area. Flights were delayed up to three hours Sunday evening at O'Hare International Airport and two hours at Midway Airport, and roughly 100 O'Hare flights were canceled, the Chicago Department of Aviation said.

At least two tornadoes struck in southern Nebraska, and two people jogging in Omaha on Saturday were seriously injured by lightning, authorities said. The storms knocked out electricity to thousands of customers in Nebraska and Oklahoma. Tornadoes also were reported Sunday in Arkansas, but no injuries or major damage were reported.


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