Emergency services worked through the night and were due to conduct another day of searching on Sunday
Emergency services working to search for missing persons after tornadoes hit Ozarks region
Emergency services combed through rubble across the southern Missouri community of Sedalia on Sunday after a tornado left more than 50 people injured.
The system responsible for the tornadoes and heavy rains tore through the Ozarks on Saturday, killing one person and injuring more than 50.
Though the number of missing persons remains unknown, communication lines have been cut and several homes in the Cross Creek area are destroyed, said Scott County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Rick Barthelemy.
The city of Sedalia, about 40 miles north of Little Rock, received major damage and shelters were being used in nearby neighborhoods.
The most reported damage was in the Cross Creek area, said Barthelemy. By late on Saturday, approximately 40 homes and 40 business were reported destroyed.
The Blue Ridge fire chief, Kevin Heath, told Fox-23 that they had 16 bodies or people that were missing. They have not said how many of those are residents of the city or residents who had left on vacation. The process is also being slow because authorities still need to process the body count before it can be released to families, said Heath.
The portion of town closest to the Iowa border was the hardest hit.
Among the people injured was Sedalia’s mayor, Joe Boyd, who was hurt but not trapped under debris, he said. He told local TV stations that everyone was safe.
“It’s catastrophic,” said Bruce Schneider, an uncle of a two-year-old girl, Sametnah, who was in a bathroom at her home with her grandmother when the tornado hit. The mother, Lathan, was working in another part of the house with the girl’s father, Johnny, and Schneider said she was working on a laptop in the bathroom at the time. The grandmother, Tammie Beard, suffered a broken ankle.
She said on Saturday: “That’s all I saw, that was the last thing I saw. All I remember was trying to put her in the tub and I couldn’t hold her up anymore. I told her to go out of the way. As I turned around and looked back up I saw the wall go over the door, the wall, everything, and I heard a bunch of cracking.”
After a visit by the Kansas governor, Sametah Schneider told the Springfield News-Leader she felt fortunate that her daughter was okay. “I’m doing great,” she said. “Thank God my daughter was still there with me. I was scared. I thought she was all right.”
Fifty-five tornadoes touched down in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Indiana on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Tornadoes also hit in Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. At least 11 people were killed, said authorities in Kansas.
The tornadoes brought flood warnings to parts of Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, and parts of Missouri and Nebraska were under a flood watch until the end of the day on Sunday.