Severe Tornadoes Kill at Least 18 People & Destroy Entire Towns
by Lisa Fogarty
At least 18 people are dead, hundreds more injured, and many homes and entire neighborhoods have been wiped out after the worst tornadoes seen in a year ripped through parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and other central and southern states last night. People in these areas are describing the situation as "chaos," and based on what they're reporting, it's easy to see why: houses and businesses have been leveled to the point where there's nothing but rubble left; major highways and roads have been shut down; overturned and destroyed cars and trucks are everywhere; power is out; and some gas lines are reportedly leaking.
Three separate tornadoes were responsible for the devastation. With 16 reported deaths and towns like Mayflower and Vilonia all but abolished, Arkansas seemed to be the state most greatly affected -- though it feels absurd to measure such a thing when all human loss is a big deal. In what must feel like a recurring nightmare, Vilonia residents are actually experiencing their second huge tornado in three years. Imagine spending all of that time, money, and energy on rebuilding only to have your efforts destroyed again. It's heartbreaking.
Meteorologists had warned that the tornado that impacted Arkansas had the potential to be EF3 or greater, which means it would carry with it winds greater than 136 mph. Storms were reported in Oklahoma, where one person was killed, Iowa -- which also reported the loss of one life -- and parts of Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri.
These folks now have to face the horrifying task of waking up this morning and really surveying all of the damage. In Arkansas alone, where more than 100 people were hospitalized, many schools are shut down and normal life seems to have come to a halt. Storm victims who found shelter at local schools and churches are likely praying they still have a home.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the tornado victims and families of those who lost their lives last night. We hope they can rebuild quickly and that they retain hope during this difficult time.
Have you ever experienced a tornado or destructive natural disaster that damaged your home or neighborhood?