A tornado near Chickasha, Oklahoma. (Photo: AP Photo/Shelby Barrow)
Killer tornadoes and deadly storms wreaked havoc across a large swath of the Midwest from Tuesday evening into early Wednesday. At least nine people were killed and towns and communities in Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma were hit hard.
Joplin, Missouri, which had already been devastated last week by a tornado that killed 124 people, was fraught with tension during a tornado watch last night and blistered again by strong winds in a lightning-filled sky. The earlier twister was the most deadly in 61 years. City government and state emergency personnel in Joplin are still trying to locate survivors of the weekend storm that may still be trapped or injured. Speaking from London Monday morning, President Obama pledged to do whatever is needed to help the affected communities in Missouri recover.
Late Tuesday, a series of storms caused widespread damage in Franklin and Johnson Counties in Arkansas when they swept through just after midnight, killing at least two people. Emergency crews were out in full force throughout the area providing assistance.
Eugene Post, 83, who lives in Johnson County, Arkansas and rode out the storm at home, told the Associated Press that lights blinked on and off and although he couldn’t see the storm, "I could hear it real loud though. ... It sounded like a train — or two or three — going by."
At last count, five deaths had occurred in Oklahoma, two in Kansas and two in Arkansas. In the Panhandle State, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reported that more than 58,000 homes had lost their electricity.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin told CNN that the state’s National Guard, highway patrol and health department personnel were all out in force, as well as the local branches of the Salvation Army and Red Cross. “All of our first responders are out across the state," said Fallin. "I've been in (public) office for 20 years. I've been through a lot of these natural disasters, but I've never seen this many in a short period of time."
The affected states may face more of the same today. Weather.com predicts severe weather patterns in an area stretching from Shreveport to Chicago and west from Pittsburgh. The primary damage in those areas could be caused by tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail. The National Weather Service provides warnings and update forecasts.
BET.com has tips on how to prepare for a natural emergency.