RENICK, Mo. – Homeowners across the Midwest were aghast Monday at nature’s fury after a barrage of tornadoes, hail and rain left 10 people dead, and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes.
“It’s just amazing how devastating it is,” said Mayor Tim Davlin, of the Illinois capital of Springfield, which escaped with no deaths or serious injuries. “It looks like the pictures we saw a couple months ago after Katrina.”
Thousands of homes and businesses lost electricity over the weekend. The University of Kansas and numerous public schools closed Monday because of storm damage and power outages, and many Illinois state workers in the capital were told to stay home.
Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt declared a state of emergency and authorized the National Guard to help with the cleanup. Nine of the dead were in Missouri.
The National Weather Service said there were as many as 110 reported instances of tornadoes touching down over the weekend in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Illinois. But the weather service said it could take two weeks to confirm those accounts.
Flooding produced one fatality in southern Indiana when a man drowned Sunday night near Owensburg after falling from a boat, officials said.
Hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged in Missouri alone by the tornadoes, high wind and hail as big as softballs.
Springfield, Ill., was hit hard twice in 24 hours, first by a tornado late Sunday and then by strong wind early Monday that blew debris through the city. Windows in the Illinois Capitol were blown out, and even the five-story Illinois Emergency Management Agency building lost part of its roof.
The weather was driven by a powerful low-pressure system over the Midwest that pulled warm air out of the Gulf of Mexico. The same phenomenon caused winds that drove deadly wildfires across Texas.