SHAWNEE, OK (AP) - Hearing on the radio that a violent storm was approaching her rural Oklahoma neighborhood, Lindsay Carter took advantage of the advanced warning, gathered her belongings and fled. When she returned, there was little left of the community she called home.
Several tornadoes struck parts of the nation's midsection Sunday, concentrating damage in central Oklahoma and Wichita, Kan. One person was killed near Shawnee, Okla., and 21 injuries were reported throughout the state.
Victims and emergency responders might not get much of reprieve as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center was forecasting similar weather for Monday over much of the same area.
The worst of the damage Sunday appeared to be at the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park located amid gently rolling hills about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.
"It took a dead hit," resident James Hoke said. Emerging from a storm cellar where he sought refuge with his wife and two children, Hoke found that their mobile home had vanished. "Everything is gone."
Hoke said he started trying to help neighbors and found his wife's father covered in rubble.
"My father-in-law was buried under the house. We had to pull Sheetrock off of him," Hoke said.
Forecasters had been warning of bad weather since last Wednesday and on Sunday said conditions had ripened for powerful tornadoes. Wall-to-wall broadcasts of storm information spread the word Sunday, leaving Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth grateful.
"There was a possibility a lot more people could have been injured," Booth said. "This is the worst I've seen in Pottawatomie County in my 25 years of law enforcement."
Carter had heard on a radio broadcast that a storm that had originated southwest of Oklahoma City was headed toward Shawnee.
"We got in the truck and left," Carter said. With upward of 30 minutes' notice for Pottawatomie County, Carter had time to leave one of the few frame homes in Steelman Estates — and most of her house was intact when she returned.
"I walked up, and the house was OK. Part of the roof was gone," she said.
The scene was different a short distance away.
"Trees were all gone. I walked further down and all those houses were gone," she said.
Booth said a 79-year-old man was found dead out in the open at Steelman Estates, but the sheriff didn't have details on where he had lived.
"You can see where there's absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up," Booth said. "It looks like there's been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour.
"It's pretty bad. It's pretty much wiped out," he said.
Tornadoes were reported Sunday in Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma as part of a storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.
Following the Oklahoma twisters, local emergency officials went from home site to home site in an effort to account for everyone. Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said that, many times in such situations, people who are not found immediately are discovered later to have left the area ahead of the storm.
A storm spotter told the National Weather Service that the tornado left the earth "scoured" at the mobile home park. At the nearby intersection of Interstate 40 and U.S. 177, a half-dozen tractor-trailers were blown over, closing both highways for a time.
Another line of storms is pushing through the St. Louis area as of 7:00 a.m. Monday. Severe storms that pushed through the St. Louis metro area early Monday morning brought strong winds and lightning. The storms caused scattered power outages that plunged thousands of residents into the dark.
As of 7:05 a.m., about 88-hundred people are without power on the Missouri side of the river with about half in St. Louis County and another 19-hundred in the Metro East-mainly in St. Clair County.
A tornado watch has been issued for a good chunk of Missouri, including the entire listening area.
This is the first warning in what is expected to be a day of turbulent weather. Although this first warning does not include communities across the river in Illinois, they are not out of the woods--more warnings and watches could be issued today.
The tornado watch expires at 10PM and a watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to develop, but none have been spotted.
Complete List of Included Counties:
Missouri counties included are Audrain Barry Barton Bates Benton Boone Buchanan Caldwell Callaway Camden Carroll Cass Cedar Chariton Christian Clay Clinton Cole Cooper Crawford Dade Dallas Douglas Franklin Gasconade Greene Henry Hickory Howard Jackson Jasper Jefferson Johnson Laclede Lafayette Lawrence Lincoln Linn Livingston Macon Maries Marion Mcdonald Miller Moniteau Monroe Montgomery Morgan Newton Osage Pettis Phelps Pike Platte Polk Pulaski Ralls Randolph Ray Saline Shelby St. Charles St. Clair St. Louis Stone Taney Vernon Warren Washington Webster Wright Missouri independent cities included are St. Louis City.
Counties included in Illinois:
IN SOUTHWEST ILLINOIS
CALHOUN IL GREENE IL JERSEY IL MACOUPIN IL
IN WEST CENTRAL ILLINOIS
ADAMS IL BROWN IL PIKE IL
Just a week after severe storms brought damaging wind and tornadoes to the St. Louis area, the threat of more dangerous weather is in the forecast. Hazelwood residents continue to clean up after a twister ripped through their community last week. But their mayor is hoping they'll now shift focus from patching roofs to preparing for the next round of storms.
Mayor Matthew Robinson says he hopes people heed the warning the next time the tornado sirens sound. "When they do," he said, "obviously you can see what we went through here in Hazelwood. People need to take shelter, because you never know. You never know when that train’s going to be coming.”
The mayor says if temporary tarps are damaged in this next round of storms, there are materials and supplies and volunteers that’ll come out again and help patch them up again.
Meanwhile residents in one storm-battered Hazelwood apartment complex are still trying to recover. That includes Renee Fletcher, who spent Tuesday gathering her things from her damaged apartment before they could be ruined by more bad weather.
Fletcher says some things have already been ruined. "There is significant molding that’s already taking place in the building," she said. "So definitely, you want to get your things out, but it’s not safe for you to be in there anyway."
Fletcher had lived at the Teson Garden Apartments when the tornado struck last week. All nine buildings in the complex were so badly damaged, they've been condemned. Police say residents have until 6:00 p.m. Wednesday to collect their belongings. Then the buildings will be closed up for repairs. Two of the buildings may need to be torn down.
Downed power lines mean the lights are out in several parts of the metro area. Ameren opened their Emergency Operations Center just after p.m. Wednesday. Utility officials say crews will work through the night, but many residents will remain without power until at least Thursday afternoon. Ameren will bring in additional crews Thursday morning.
As of 2:00 a.m, Ameren was reporting more than 30,000 Missouri customers without power - most of them in St. Louis County.
About 4,000 metro-east customers also remain in the dark.
Outages can be reported here.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for the Metro St. Louis area.
A watch indicates that conditions are favorable for the development of a tornado, but none have been spotted.
The entire statement from the weather service is below:
TORNADO WATCH 90 REMAINS VALID UNTIL 9 PM CDT THIS EVENING FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS
IN ILLINOIS THIS WATCH INCLUDES 10 COUNTIES
IN SOUTH CENTRAL ILLINOIS
BOND IL CLINTON IL FAYETTE IL MARION IL MONTGOMERY IL WASHINGTON IL
IN SOUTHWEST ILLINOIS
MADISON IL MONROE IL RANDOLPH IL ST. CLAIR IL
IN MISSOURI THIS WATCH INCLUDES 11 COUNTIES
IN EAST CENTRAL MISSOURI
CRAWFORD MO FRANKLIN MO JEFFERSON MO ST. CHARLES MO ST. LOUIS MO WASHINGTON MO
IN SOUTHEAST MISSOURI
IRON MO MADISON MO REYNOLDS MO ST. FRANCOIS MO STE. GENEVIEVE MO
IN MISSOURI THIS WATCH INCLUDES 1 INDEPENDENT CITY
IN EAST CENTRAL MISSOURI
ST. LOUIS CITY MO
THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF... BELLEVILLE... CHESTER... EDWARDSVILLE... FARMINGTON... LITCHFIELD... SALEM... ST CHARLES... ST LOUIS... UNION AND VANDALIA.
A snowstorm that moved through parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota yesterday is zeroing in on Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, with the brunt of the storm expected to hit early today.
Up to 10 inches of snow could fall in the Chicago area, which would easily make this storm the area's largest of the season.
This storm could be particularly problematic for commuters. The National Weather Service says it could snow during both the morning and evening rush hours in Chicago. Emergency officials urge those who don't have to drive to keep their cars in the garage in favor of public transportation.