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April 14, 2024 1:12 am

Tornadoes leave trail of destruction in US’ Midwest and South, 26 dead

Wnne (US), April 2

Storms that dropped possibly dozens of tornadoes killed at least 26 people in small towns and big cities across the South and Midwest, tearing a path through the Arkansas capital, collapsing the roof of a packed concert venue in Illinois and stunning people throughout the region Saturday with the damage’s scope.

Confirmed or suspected tornadoes in at least eight states destroyed homes and businesses, splintered trees and laid waste to neighbourhoods across a broad swath of the country.

The dead included at least nine in one Tennessee county, four in the small town of Wynne, Arkansas, three in Sullivan, Indiana, and four in Illinois.

Other deaths from the storms that hit Friday night into Saturday were reported in Alabama and Mississippi, along with one near Little Rock, Arkansas, where city officials said more than 2,600 buildings were in a tornado’s path.

Residents of Wynne, a community of about 8,000 people 50 miles (80 kilometres) west of Memphis, Tennessee, woke Saturday to find the high school’s roof shredded and its windows blown out.

Huge trees lay on the ground, their stumps reduced to nubs. Broken walls, windows and roofs pocked homes and businesses.

Debris lay scattered inside the shells of homes and on lawns: clothing, insulation, toys, splintered furniture, a pickup truck with its windows shattered.

Ashley Macmillan said she, her husband and their children huddled with their dogs in a small bathroom as a tornado passed, “praying and saying goodbye to each other, because we thought we were dead.”            A falling tree seriously damaged their home, but they were unhurt.

“We could feel the house shaking, we could hear loud noises, dishes rattling. And then it just got calm,” she said.

Recovery was already underway, with workers using chainsaws and bulldozers to clear the area and utility crews restoring power.

Nine people died in Tennessee’s McNairy County, east of Memphis, according to Patrick Sheehan, director the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

“The majority of the damage has been done to homes and residential areas,” said David Leckner, the mayor of Adamsville.

Gov. Bill Lee drove to the county Saturday to tour the destruction and comfort residents.

He said the storm capped the “worst” week of his time as governor, coming days after a school shooting in Nashville that killed six people including a family friend whose funeral he and his wife, Maria, attended earlier in the day.

“It’s terrible what has happened in this community, this county, this state,” Lee said. “But it looks like your community has done what Tennessean communities do, and that is rally and respond.” Jeffrey Day said he called his daughter after seeing on the news that their community of Adamsville was being hit.

Huddled in a closet with her two-year-old son as the storm passed over, she answered the phone screaming.

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