Joplin, MO Devastated by Killer Tornado

We need to keep the people of Joplin, Missouri in our prayers. Last evening (Sunday, 5-22-11), the city of Joplin was hit by a massive tornado, that tore through large swaths of residential areas, leaving, at last count, 89 dead and over 400 injured.
Please pray for all the people affected by this horrible disaster.

Rescue workers were going door-to-door Monday, searching for survivors of a monster tornado that ripped through the heart of Joplin, Mo., Sunday night, killing at least 89 people while wiping out entire neighborhoods.

Authorities warned that the death toll could climb as search and rescuers continued their work after the twister cut a path nearly 6 miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town. Their task was made more miserable Monday morning as a thunderstorm with strong, gusty winds and heavy rain pelted part of the city with hail.

“While the weather is bad right now, we still believe there are lives to be saved,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said in an interview with Fox News.

City manager Mark Rohr announced the number of known dead at a pre-dawn news conference outside the wreckage of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday’s storm. Rohr said tornado sirens gave residents about a 20-minute warning before the tornado touched down on the city’s west side.

Much of the city’s south side was leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins. Fire chief Mitch Randles estimated 25 percent to 30 percent of the city was damaged, and said his own home was among the buildings destroyed as the twister swept through this city of about 50,000 people some 160 miles south of Kansas City.

An unknown number of people were injured in the storm, and officials said patients were scattered to any nearby hospitals that could take them.

Authorities conducted searches of the damaged area Monday morning, moving gingerly around downed power lines, jagged debris and a series of gas leaks that caused fires around the city overnight.

Early Monday, Nixon said fires from gas leaks still burned across the city.

Residents said the damage was breathtaking in scope.

“You see pictures of World War II, the devastation and all that with the bombing. That’s really what it looked like,” said Kerry Sachetta, the principal of a flattened Joplin High School. “I couldn’t even make out the side of the building. It was total devastation in my view. I just couldn’t believe what I saw.”

The Joplin twister was one of 68 reported tornadoes across seven Midwest states over the weekend, stretching from Oklahoma to Wisconsin, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. One person was killed in Minneapolis. But the devastation in Missouri was the worst, eerily reminiscent of the tornadoes that killed more than 300 people across the South last month.

Debris from the tornado reportedly spread for miles — even landing in Greene County, which is some 70 miles away from Joplin.

“It’s all over. Walnut Grove, Battlefield. You name it,” Ryan Nicholls, director of Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management, told News-Leader.com.

Sunday’s storm in Joplin hit a hospital packed with patients and a commercial area including a Home Depot construction store, numerous smaller businesses and restaurants and a grocery store. Jasper County emergency management director Keith Stammer said an estimated 2,000 buildings were damaged.

Among the worst-hit locations in Joplin was St. John’s Regional Medical Center. The staff had just a few moments’ notice to hustle patients into hallways before the storm struck the nine-story building, blowing out hundreds of windows and leaving the facility useless.

In the parking lot, a helicopter lay crushed on its side, its rotors torn apart and windows smashed. Nearby, a pile of cars lay crumpled into a single mass of twisted metal. Matt Sheffer dodged downed power lines, trees and closed streets to make it to his dental office across from the hospital. Rubble littered a flattened lot where a pharmacy, gas station and some doctors’ offices once stood.

St. John’s patients were evacuated to other hospitals in the region, said Cora Scott, a spokeswoman for the medical center’s sister hospital in Springfield.

Early Monday morning, floodlights from a temporary triage facility lit what remained of the hospital that once held as many as 367 patients. Police officers could be seen combing the surrounding area for bodies.

Original Link.

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