Thursday,
24 August 2017
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More than 20 dead in USA storms

Weekend tornadoes and storms whirled across three American States

At least 21 people were killed in three states as weekend tornadoes and storms whirled across Oklahoma, Missouri and into the Southeast. According to USA Today, on Sunday storms in Georgia caused at least 1death, cutting a swath through several counties, downing trees and damaging homes and businesses.

Lisa Janak of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency said a person was killed in Dublin, a city of about 16,000 near Macon.

In Johnson County, about 170 miles southeast of Atlanta, the small town of Kite was destroyed by the storm, Caroline Pope, a communications officer with the Johnson County Sheriff`s Department, told The Associated Press. "From what they`re telling me, it`s gone," she told the AP from the dispatch center in the jail, which was operating on a generator because the power was out.

It wasn`t clear if the Georgia storms generated tornadoes, but tornadoes were to blame for at least 21 deaths on Saturday in Oklahoma and Missouri, where crews are still searching for survivors.

Seven people were killed in Picher, Okla., where witnesses said the tornado tore through town late Saturday afternoon, injuring 150 people, overturning cars and throwing debris everywhere.

The storm system later moved east into Missouri, where tornadoes killed at least 14 others in the state`s southwestern section.

In Picher, officials held out hope that they wouldn`t find any more bodies in the town, once a bustling mining center of 20,000 that dwindled to about 800 people as families fled lead pollution.

Residents said the tornado created a surreal scene as it moved through Picher late Saturday afternoon, injuring 150 people, overturning cars, throwing mattresses and twisted metal high into the canopy of trees.

"I swear I could see cars floating," said Herman Hernandez, 68. "And there was a roar, louder and louder."

In Seneca, Mo., about 20 miles southeast of Picher near the Oklahoma border, crews on Sunday combed farm fields looking for bodies and survivors, the state emergency management spokeswoman said.

"We are finding more unfortunately," Susie Stonner said, refering to the bodies.

Jane Lant was sorting through the debris of her bridal shop about 10 miles north of Seneca. A body wrapped in blue tarp lay next to the shop. Her husband`s feed store and a home across the road were also destroyed.

Lant said they were thankful that the story had closed an hour before the twister hit.

"We would have had people in here at 6 when it hit," she said.

In Picher, some homes were reduced to their foundations, others lost several walls. In one home, the tornado knocked down a bedroom wall, but left clothes hanging neatly in a closet.

A Best Western hotel sign was blown miles before coming to rest against a post. At one home, a basketball goal planted in concrete had its metal support twisted so the rim hung only about 3 feet above ground.

The towering piles of mining waste, or chat, had debris from the flattened homes scattered onto them by the storms. Cars were overturned and dogs roamed freely.

Frank Geasland, Ottawa County`s emergency manager said, a government-sponsored buyout of homes in the town left some residences vacant, and this may have prevented a greater loss of life.

The twister was the deadliest in Oklahoma since a May 3, 1999 twister that killed 44 people in the Oklahoma City area.

The National Weather Service estimated that at least eight tornadoes had been spawned in Oklahoma along six storm tracks. Three teams were dispatched to assess damage, meteorologist Steve Amburn said.

Television footage showed some destroyed outbuildings and damaged homes west of McAlester and near Haywood. At a glass plant southwest of McAlester, the storm apparently picked up a trailer and slammed it on top of garbage bins.

On Sunday, storms rumbled across Georgia, killing at least one person in Dublin, about a 121 miles southeast of Atlanta, authorities said. Weather officials had not yet confirmed whether the storms produced any tornadoes.

Georgia Power officials say at least 80,000 residents are without electricity across the state, mostly concentrated in the metro Atlanta area and the Macon area.

At least 14 people were killed after severe storms spawned tornadoes and high winds across sections of southwestern Missouri, state emergency management officials said.

Ten of the dead were killed when a twister struck near Seneca.

The number of injuries across the area was not immediately available. But Keith Stammer, who is acting as spokesman for Newton County emergency operations, said 19 people were hospitalized. He did not know the extent of their injuries.

In storm-weary Arkansas, a tornado collapsed a home and a business, and there were reports of a few people trapped in buildings, said Weather Service meteorologist John Robinson.

Tornadoes killed 13 people in Arkansas on Feb. 5, and another seven were killed in an outbreak May 2. In between was freezing weather, persistent rain and river flooding that damaged residences has slowed farmers in their planting.

AP, Contributing: Rick Hampson, USA TODAY

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