Violent Midwest storms kill at least 10 - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Violent Midwest storms kill at least 10

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Posted: Monday, March 13, 2006 5:25 am | Updated: 4:57 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Swarms of tornadoes killed at least 10 people across the Midwest, shut down the University of Kansas and damaged much of Springfield, Ill.

The violent weather started during the weekend, part of a line of storms that stretched from the southern Plains up the Ohio Valley, and continued Monday.

Fierce wind raked Springfield early Monday, causing more damage in a city that had been struck by a tornado the night before. Powerlines were down across city, trees uprooted and windows blown out.

Nineteen people were treated for minor injuries, and police were searching homes and businesses early Monday for other victims, said city spokesman Ernie Slottag.

Mayor Tim Davlin said he expected "every square inch of Springfield" will have suffered some effect from the storms.

"It's just unreal," Davlin said early Monday from the city's Emergency Operations Center.

Most major roads into the city were closed and one man was reported missing after his home was destroyed. The roof was torn off a Springfield Wal-Mart store.

The tornado that struck Springfield on Sunday had made a two-hour pass through central Illinois, striking a series of counties. The Scott County, Ill., sheriff's department confirmed that a tornado touched down in Manchester, a town of about 300 people, although there were no immediate reports of injuries.

"It's a mess over there," said Scott County sheriff's department dispatcher Rosann Lindsey. "A lot of buildings are down over there."

That length of time on or near the ground made the twister "a highly unusual event," said National Weather Service senior forecaster Ed Shimon in Lincoln.

The Chicago area also was struck by high wind, with gusts to 70 mph reported in suburban Tinley Park, and roofs were blown off several apartment buildings in suburban Bridgeview. Localized flooding was reported in the Chicago and Quad Cities areas.

Missouri was hardest hit by the weekend storms, with at least nine people killed and hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed or damaged. Hail as big as softballs pounded parts of Missouri.

Bobby Ritcheson, 23, said he watched as a neighbor was killed south of Sedalia, Mo.

"The trailer came down right on top of her," Ritcheson said from a Sedalia hospital where he had taken his pregnant wife out of concern she might be going into labor.

Homes were destroyed along a path of more than 20 miles south of St. Louis, officials said.

Missouri authorities reported four bodies found in the rubble of homes near the north-central town of Renick, two people killed when a tornado hurled their pickup truck beneath a propane tank about 80 miles south of St. Louis, the woman killed near Sedalia and another found dead in Henry County. In southwest Missouri, a 63-year-old man died early Monday from injuries suffered when a twist hit near Marionville.

Another storm victim was found in Indiana.

University of Kansas Provost David Shulenberger said classes were canceled Monday because of safety concerns about debris falling from roofs. The Lawrence campus was littered with trees, roof tiles and window glass.

Two trees fell through Rhonda Burns' mobile home in Lawrence early Sunday.

"If the wind had shifted that tree just a few inches, I wouldn't be talking to you," she said.

High wind lifted a cargo container off the airfield at Kansas City International Airport and blew it into several vehicles.

Tornadoes also touched down Sunday in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and heavy rain flooded roads in Indiana.

In northeastern Oklahoma, a tornado destroyed 25 to 50 homes near the town of Oaks, said Mike Miller, spokesman for the Cherokee Nation. At least 12 people were taken to a hospital, Miller said.

Several dozen homes were heavily damaged by a tornado in northwestern Arkansas.

"It was over before you knew it," said Greg Kospar, 41, of Bentonville, Ark. "The house is gone."

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