Devastation from a tornado that hit Glen Allen, Mo., in southeastern Missouri, killing several people and causing an unknown number of injuries, is pictured on April 5, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
Five people were killed in a predawn tornado that ripped through southeastern Missouri on Wednesday, shearing off roofs, splintering trees and taking down power lines in devastated Bollinger County, officials said.
First responders from multiple agencies combed through destroyed homes and businesses in the rural area that Missouri Governor Mike Parson said faces "a long journey ahead" toward recovery.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson said the state would aid people who lost their homes even though some sparsely populated communities would not have sustained enough damage to be eligible for public disaster relief
Five people were also injured and 87 structures damaged with 12 of those buildings destroyed, said Eric Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Photographs on social media from Glen Allen, Missouri – a village about 177 km south of St. Louis – showed severely damaged houses with roofs torn off, downed trees and power lines and debris covering roadways and yards.
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"It's just heartbreaking to see people's homes missing roofs and their homes gone," Missouri State Patrol Highway Sergeant Clark Parrott told Reuters said after surveying the damage. "We got work ahead of us, but we will get through this."
Storm spotters reported the tornado touched down in the area about 3:30 am local time (0830 GMT), according to the National Weather Service, one of more than a dozen twisters seen in the Midwest overnight.
In Marble Hill, 5 km to the east of Glen Allen, Chris Huffman, 45, said he raced to his basement with his wife and two daughters after hearing tornado sirens and the power went out.
Outside was pitch black and there were dark clouds, high winds and rain, and bursts of lightning, Huffman said.
"It was startling," he told Reuters in a phone interview from his sandwich shop, Munchies, where he was preparing food for crews and those in need. "We heard the roar of everything. That's how close it was."
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Parson said the state would aid people who lost their homes even though some sparsely populated communities would not have sustained enough damage to be eligible for public disaster relief.
"This is going to be weeks upon months to be able to recover," Parson said, adding that President Joe Biden called to offer help and services.
The twister struck days after violent tornadoes tore through parts of the South and Midwest, killing at least 32 people.
A week before, a tornado devastated the Mississippi Delta town of Rolling Fork, killing 26 people.