Tue, Apr 17, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Battered US Midwest braces for more tornadoes

AFP, CHICAGO

Residents picking through their damaged homes braced for more tornadoes across the US Midwest on Sunday after dozens touched down in the region, killing five people in Oklahoma.

By early Sunday, more than 100 tornadoes were reported in the region, and the National Weather Service warned that “severe storms” were possible in a huge swathe of the country — from Texas to Wisconsin. Severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes,” were expected later over parts of the Upper Mississippi Valley.

Oklahoma bore the brunt of the storm, with three children and two adults killed in the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward, according to the Oklahoman. Dozens more were also injured.

“It’s really a devastating thing to our city,” Woodward Mayor Roscoe Hill said. “I think the main thing is all you can do is pray for us.”

Gale-force winds and hail the size of golf balls leveled buildings, blew roofs off homes, uprooted trees and toppled power lines, leaving mounds of debris. Woodward County Emergency Manager Matt Lehenbauer told local media that at least 89 homes and 13 businesses were destroyed in the area.

Classes were canceled yesterday because of the storm damage, but all schools were due to be reopened today.

“We still have so many families without electricity, and a lot of the roads aren’t open for our routes,” Woodward Public Schools Superintendent Tim Merchant told the Oklahoman.

A tornado leveled most of the tiny town of Thurman, Iowa, where authorities evacuated the town’s population of about 300 people. Many Thurman residents took up temporary shelter at a high school in nearby Tabor, CNN reported.

The damage was estimated to be as much as US$283 million in the Wichita, Kansas area, the Kansas City Star said, citing a preliminary assessment by city and county officials.

However, the storms made few victims thanks to early warnings from meteorological services that urged people to take precautions well in advance.

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