Authorities went door to door in search of an unknown number of people who remained unaccounted for after severe storms swept through southern Arkansas, shredding home and businesses and injuring at least 27 people.
Residents reported seeing multiple tornadoes Saturday in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Kansas. The National Weather Service confirmed that a twister touched down near Lucas in central Kansas.
The storms knocked out electricity across the area. They occurred as a massive system that caused blizzard conditions in the Midwest moved through the region.
Forecasters said the damage could have been done by a tornado or by straight-line winds that could have exceeded 70 mph. They were examining debris patterns and looking for clues about where the storms traveled.
James Robinson of Winchester said he pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot and ran from his car when he saw a black cloud coming. “It sounded just like a locomotive train, not real fast,” said Robinson. He said he helped a woman into the store, then hid in the restaurant’s walk-in freezer.
Damage was reported in a five-mile-long, half-mile-wide swath to the south and east of Dumas, which is about 90 miles southeast of Little Rock.
The National Weather Service said it received a report of cars being thrown into trees. Authorities said a couple in Urbana were injured when their mobile home blew away, and a truck carrying wood chips was blown off a roadway. A tractor-trailer flipped over in a parking lot.
In Indianola, Miss., a church was nearly split in half as tornadoes swept through the area, according to the Sunflower County Sheriff’s Office. In Louisiana, at least two homes were destroyed and dozens more were damaged in the northern and central part of the state.
Elsewhere, winds reaching 60 mph helped fuel dozens of grass fires across Texas, destroying three homes near Midland and forcing evacuations at Fort Hood, authorities said. No injuries were reported. About 37,000 homes and businesses were without power after winds blew down power lines.
In Oklahoma, high winds knocked out power to more than 10,000 homes and destroyed two mobile homes. Three people suffered minor injuries, authorities said.
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