Tornados in Southwestern Missouri Kill 15; Governor Calls in National Guard

May 12, 2008

Category K-4 tornadoes that cut across three states on Saturday (May 10) night killed 15 people in southwestern Missouri. The hardest areas hit were in rural southwestern Missouri about eight miles north of Senaca and 10 miles south of Joplin, Mo. The hardest hit areas include Barry, Jasper and Newton Counties.

“Our information to date is that in addition to those killed, approximately 180 people were injured,” said Scott Brothers, president of the Insurance Center, in Joplin, Mo. “One volunteer firefighter was critically injured while driving his vehicle, making the rounds trying to warn people.” Brothers said many of those killed were in their vehicles, seeking protection.

Brothers told Insurance Journal that over all 300 homes, businesses and churches were destroyed. “The tornado was on the ground for more than 60 miles in Missouri,” Brothers said. “Fortunately, most of the areas it hit were not densely populated or the death and injury numbers would be even higher.”

State officials put out notices on Sunday about assistance efforts.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt’s office announced that it has been in contact with state emergency management officials. The state emergency operations plan is activated to allow state agencies to assist with the local emergency response efforts.

At Gov. Blunt’s direction, the Missouri National Guard has approximately 20 citizen-soldiers on duty providing security in Newtonia and Granby. Missouri National Guard support in the area will continue based on the needs determined by local and state officials, the Governor’s office said.

The Governor’s office also noted that shelters have been established in Diamond, Neosho and Purdy. The Governor’s office enourages Missourians who need resource referrals or non-emergency help are urged to call 211. In areas where 211 is not operational, citizens may call 800-427-4626.

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