5 confirmed tornadoes in the Heartland - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

5 confirmed tornadoes in the Heartland

Posted: Updated:
Harrisburg, Ill. Thursday morning Harrisburg, Ill. Thursday morning
Mounds, Ill. (Source: cNews) Mounds, Ill. (Source: cNews)
historic St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Ridgway, IL (Source: cNews) historic St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Ridgway, IL (Source: cNews)
The storm drove this plywood piece through the wall of a garage in Harrisburg, The storm drove this plywood piece through the wall of a garage in Harrisburg,
CR 271 near Puxico, MO (Source: cNews) CR 271 near Puxico, MO (Source: cNews)
(KFVS) -

Seven people across the Heartland, 13 across the nation have died after at least 35 tornadoes touched down in 24 hours in the Midwest.  Five of those tornadoes were in the Heartland.

The National Weather Service reports an EF4 tornado hit Saline County on the southwest side of Harrisburg, killing six people. The peak wind was estimated at 180 miles per hour, according to the weather service.  It touched down around 4:51 a.m. one mile north of Carrier Mills and traveled ENE toward Harrisburg, touching down in Harrisburg at 4:56 a.m.  That path of the tornado is more than seven miles long and about 250 yards wide.

Four females and two males, all adults, were killed in Saline County. 

Five of the victims' names have been released.  They are Mary Osman, 75, of Harrisburg, Jaylynn Ferrell, 22, of Harrisburg, Lynda Hull, 74, of Galatia, Donna Rann, 61, of Eldorado, and Randy Rann, 64, of Eldorado.

It is the deadliest state disaster in Illinois in nearly a decade.

A Puxico, Mo. man was killed in Stoddard County. The Stoddard County coroner says Mark Champlin, 50, of Puxico was killed.  Two people were killed in southwest Missouri. Missouri Gov. Jan Nixon has declared a state of emergency.

One person was killed in Kansas.

Three people were killed in Tennessee after the same severe weather system that created massive damage across the Midwest moved through the state.

The National Weather Service confirms preliminary reports of an EF2 in Marquand in Madison County, Mo.  There have been no reports of major damage.

The NWS confirms preliminary reports of an EF2 tornado that went through McCracken and Ballard counties in Ky.  Reports are the tornado touched down just southwest of Mounds, Ill. and crossed over I-57 near exit 8.  The tornado then crossed the Ohio River near the town of America, then across McCracken and Ballard counties. The tornado then crossed the Ohio River again and lifted around two miles northwest of Metropolis just east of the airport.

NWS teams were in Stoddard and Cape Girardeau counties on Thursday surveying damage.

An EF3 tornado was confirmed by the NWS.  It started early Wednesday morning just west of Asherville to two miles west of Bell City.  Winds reached peaks of 140 mph with a width of 550 yards and was 21 miles long.  Mark Champlin, 50, was killed in this tornado.

It damaged more than 50 structures, mostly mobile homes, barns, out buildings.  Two houses sustained major damage.  One house was destroyed.

A second tornado in Stoddard County Wednesday morning started just east of Bell City to three miles southeast of Benton, Mo.  Winds peaked at 90 mph with a width of 75 yards.  It was 17.5 miles long.  No one was injured from that tornado.  Empty grain bins, and silos were destroyed.  Irrigation pivots were turned over, chicken houses destroyed, siding and shingle damage to homes, and barns damaged.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed state disaster declaration at the podium at a 2 p.m. press conference in Harrisburg Wednesday.  Quinn says he's already talked to President Obama and that Illinois is banding together as a family to help Harrisburg recover and rebuild.

Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Quinn directed the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to activate the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield.

"This morning the city of Harrisburg suffered a horrific event," said Harrisburg mayor Eric Gregg. "We suffered the loss of lives, many injuries, and millions of dollars in damages."

IEMA regional personnel were deployed to Harrisburg soon after the storms and representatives from the Illinois State Police, departments of Transportation, Central Management Services, Corrections, Public Health and Natural Resources, along with the American Red Cross, reported to the SEOC soon thereafter.  The governor says the SEOC will remain activated as long as necessary.

Ameren Illinois representatives say more than 430 personnel were deployed to southern Illinois.

[Slideshow of damage]

Saline County, IL damage

At least 100 people have been injured in the Harrisburg area, according to the Saline County Sheriff's Office.   At least 300 houses have been damaged or destroyed with at least 25 businesses damaged or destroyed in the Harrisburg area, according to the sheriff's office.

"We will be rebuilding this city. We will make this city stronger.  This will not stop us," Mayor Gregg said.

A curfew of 6 p.m. is being implemented for the disaster area, according to the sheriff's office.

Residents in the hard hit Gaskin City area will be allowed to back to their homes Thursday morning.

According to the Associated Press Darrell Osman says his mother, 75-year-old Mary Osman, was among the dead. He said he raced to his mother's home not long after the storm and arrived in time to speak to her before she was taken to a hospital with a head injury, a severe cut to her neck and a broken arm and leg. She died a short time later.

Siteseers are asked to stay away from the City of Harrisburg. Numerous power lines are down and gas lines leaking.  Several streets are blocked and residents should treat all power lines as still being energized.

The sheriff's office says the Harrisburg Medical Center is not admitting patients, but the emergency room is open and operational if anyone needs emergency care. The hospital suffered some damage, but is open.

The mayor of Harrisburg tells Heartland News that this is a horrific event. He says the damage is very profound and  heartbreaking.

The superintendent of schools in Harrisburg has canceled classes the rest of week.

People should not call 911 or the dispatch center to report power line outages, please contact Ameren Illinois direct.  Ameren Illinois doesn't have a time of when power will be restored.

A strip mall area with several business have been flattened.

Arnold Wyrick says he sees mattresses hanging from trees.  He says the windows and doors have been blown out of the Wal-Mart in town.  Several businesses are destroyed on the south side of town.

Tyler Profilet reports a lot of damage in the Harrisburg area, including semi trucks tipped over.  One man says it sounded like a freight train as he hid in a closet with his son.  Several emergency crews from numerous departments are responding to the area.

The medical center has broken windows and several roads are blocked off around the hospital.

Power lines are downed in the area.  Several roads are block off in Harrisburg.  One of the roads blocked off leads to the hospital in town.

Saline County Emergency Management asks people to stay off their cell phones if possible as heavy phone traffic is jamming the system.  They ask people to text only if possible.  Sightseeers are asked to stay at home.

Carrier Mills had a church and several houses damaged, according to Lt. Tracy Felty.

FEMA Regional Administrator Beth Freeman released this statement.  "On behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), I would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured by tornadoes that impacted Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska late last night and into this morning. Also, I would like to commend the ongoing work of local and state first responders for the measures taken in the aftermath of these storms to protect lives and provide immediate assistance during this difficult time. FEMA has been in constant contact with officials at the Kansas Department of Emergency Management (KDEM), Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) since the severe weather hit. We encourage residents in impacted areas to listen to instructions from their local leaders on protecting life and property as response efforts continue."

[More damage across the Heartland.]

Helping Harrisburg

All volunteers in Harrisburg must register at the SIC Foundation building on North Commercial St. starting at 7 a.m. on March 1.  Do not go to the fire department to volunteer.

Harrisburg Police Chief Bob Smith says Rural King and the SIC foundation building are set up as meeting areas for manpower and equipment.

The city is issuing work permits at Rural King. The city treasurer is issuing the permits.  Volunteers must bring identification and proper paperwork.  Volunteers can call 618-252-3732 to find out how to help.  Those permits were put in place to protect the residents.

According to the sheriff's office, the shelter is open at the First Baptist Church at 204 North Main Street. Donations may be made to the Red Cross at the First Baptist Church, The Salvation Army at 10 West Locust in Harrisburg or Christian Compassion Care Center at PO Box 422 in Harrisburg.

The United Way of South Central Illinois, located at 1101 Broadway in Mt. Vernon (the Old Integra Bank Building) will serve as a drop off site for items for the tornado victims in Harrisburg, IL.

Smith says 24/7 law enforcement protection will be available in Harrisburg for as long as needed.  He says anyone caught looting will be prosecuted.

The Southern Illinois Egyptian Health Department says if you are experiencing a power outage:

-Keep your freezer/refrigerator door closed to maintain temperatures.

-It will keep food for 4 hours if unopened, according to health officials.

-Use, "When in doubt, throw it out!" when it comes to food safety.

Ameren reports 14,000 without power at the peak.  Ameren hopes to have all power restored by the end of the day Friday.

Stoddard County, MO damage

One man has died after the storms in Stoddard County. 

A total of eight patients from Stoddard County are being treated at Saint Francis Medical Center.  They are all storm related injuries from Stoddard County.  The ages range 4 months to 55 years of age. The injuries range from moderate to serious.

Emergency Manager Dale Moreland says there will be a shelter opening at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Kinder Chapel that is on K Highway.

Stoddard County Sheriff Carl Hefner says several mobile homes in the area are destroyed in Stoddard County.  He says there were residents ejected from a mobile home and two people airlifted to a hospital in Cape Girardeau.  One of those people died.  The damage is along County Roads 266 and 257 east of Puxico and tracked to the northeast to the Leora area.

Emergency Manager Dale Moreland tells Heartland News it looks like the mobile home  "exploded." All that was left was the frame. Moreland says the victim was found in a nearby field and airlifted to a Cape Girardeau hospital and later died.

Moreland told Heartland News Wednesday morning that there is extensive damage everywhere, and power lines down across several miles.

Stoddard County Coroner Aaron Mathis has released the name of the man killed in Puxico Wednesday morning after a tornado moved through the area.

Mark Champlin, 50, of Puxico was pronounced dead at 7:35 a.m. at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau. Mathis says he died due to injuries from the storms.

Authorities say a woman was in the home with man at the time of the storm.  Her sister, Judie LaChance tells Heartland News that Sandy Hemby will be okay.

Hefner says another home was destroyed on a county road, tool sheds blown away, equipment blown around, numerous power lines are down.  There are no reports of fatalities in Stoddard county.  Hefner says they started receiving calls around 4 a.m.

Dale Moreland with Stoddard County EMA says one mobile home was moved about 200 feet.

Moreland says crews are working on County Road 249 and County Road 271 is blocked.

Highway Patrol Trooper Clark Parrott says large trees are down along Route M in Stoddard County.

Johnnie Clark, the city manager in Puxico, says most of the damage is in the rural areas near town.  He says crews are assisting people in rural areas.  No major damage is reported in Puxico city limits.

Madison County, MO

The National Weather Service confirms preliminary reports of an EF1 in Marquand. 

Preliminary reports from the National Weather Service report large oak trees were found uprooted and damage to roofs was consistent with EF1 damage on the enhanced Fujita scale. Further west, a house was destroyed on County Road 431 just north of Highway C.

According to NWS, numerous trees near the house were also uprooted. Damage in this area was rated EF2.

A few trees have been reported down.

Cape Girardeau County, MO damage

The school and a church sustained damage in Oak Ridge, Mo. in Cape Girardeau County.  The Oak Ridge has damage to the roof and air conditioning unit.  The baseball fields also have damage.

One man in Oak Ridge says it pulled the roof off his trailer and shifted it about five feet from the foundation.

People are using the school in Oak Ridge as a staging area to head out to help those in the area.

The Red Cross is providing food and water to residents and emergency workers in Oak Ridge as they work on cleaning up from the storm damage.

According to Emergency Management, all roads are back open in the Oak Ridge area.

Citizens Electric Corporation reports 820 homes and businesses without power at 9 a.m.  At the peak, 5,500 customers were without power.

Massac and Pulaski County, IL damage

A National Weather Service team has determined at least 1 of the strong storms that swept through Kentucky was an EF2 tornado packing winds of 125 miles per hour.

NWS reports are a tornado touched down just southwest of Mounds, Ill. and crossed over I-57 near exit 8.  The tornado then crossed the Ohio River near the town of America, then across McCracken and Ballard Counties. The tornado then crossed the Ohio River again and lifted around two miles northwest of Metropolis just east of the airport.

Pulaski County, Illinois EMS Director Ken Kerley says wreckers and vehicles were blown from their location and crossing arms broke off and blew into a squad car.  He says a couple of business were damaged off of Interstate-57 exit 8.

Crystal Britt is just east of Mounds.  She talked with one family who woke up to a freight train sound.  They have windows and doors blown out of their home.  A shed is knocked down.  Everyone in that family is OK.

The school in Mounds also received damage.  No injuries have been reported in Pulaski County.

Gallatin County, IL damage

Heartland News reporter Carly O'Keefe reports grain bins in fields and more damage in Gallatin County.  Carly reports that on Main street, every home has some sort of damage. She says roofs are ripped off, pieces of homes ripped off, windows shattered and businesses are damaged.

Carly O'Keefe reports Ridgway's St. Joseph's catholic church leveled by storm. A priest was asleep in rectory when roof caved in at  5 a.m. and crawled out to safety.

St. Joseph's priest says, "There was a whiff of the miraculous."  The church is destroyed, but 100 year old altar stands unharmed with Eucharist intact.

Carly O'Keefe reports that there were 13 injuries in Ridgway. One with serious injuries and the rest minor injuries

She says Tin Shop Hardware Store in Ridgway crushed by wind. It was one of the town's few businesses.

Heavy equipment that is brought into the area will be staged at the Seed Company, just west of Ridgway. Generators will be brought to the Oasis Tavern, just south of the Fire Department.

The roads in Ridgway are closed to through traffic. First Responders and media are to report to the Ridgway Fire Department on West Main Street to sign in.

Town officials have established a curfew from 9 a.m. to 6 a.m. in Ridgway.

A shelter is being set up at the Golden Circle Senior Center in Ridgway. Food and drink is available at the Fire Department.

For those whose homes are damaged, officials are asking victims to sign up at the Fire Department to request lodging, tarpaulins, and other supplies.

The Egyptian Health Department has made limited doses of tetanus available free of charge.

Perry County, IL damage

David Serby in Perry County, Illinois says a few outbuildings were blown over with some tree damage.

Williamson County, Illinois damage

Emergency management says they have assessed 16 structures (houses, barns, garages, pole barns) with major damage and five structures with minor damage. There were two minor injuries reported. The Creal Springs siren was confirmed that it did sound the two times it was activated, according to emergency management.

McCracken County, KY damage

The National Weather Service confirms preliminary reports of an EF2 tornado that went through McCracken and Ballard Counties in Ky.

Crystal Britt reports there were two people that received minor injuries and two with critical injuries due to the storm. She says there was a clear path of destruction down Ogden Landing Road on the Ballard/McCracken County line.

Paul Carter with McCracken County EMA says the northwest part of county sustained damage.  One mobile home was destroyed on New Liberty & Gibbs Rd.  Two people had to be rescued and are seriously injured.  One mobile home was destroyed on Old Ogden Landing Rd. Four people were injured including one child. No details on the extent of injuries.  Multiple buildings are damaged.  An RV was blown over.  High voltage power lines are down in the Cross Country area.  Trees are on mobile homes.  Norton Creek Baptist Church in the Raglin area has minor damage.  EMA is still checking homes for damage.

Sheriff's offices storm damage reports per county in MO:

Butler County, Missouri

No damage to report besides a few downed tree limbs. Officers continue to be out checking roads.

Dunklin County, Missouri

No damage or injuries reported.

Pemiscot County, Missouri

No damage or injuries reported.

New Madrid County, Missouri

No damage or injuries reported.

Ripley County, Missouri

Strong winds and hail reported. No damage or injuries reported.

Mississippi County, Missouri

Dime sized hail and strong winds. No damage or injuries reported.

Carter County, Missouri

No damage or injuries reported.

Wayne County, Missouri

No damage or injuries reported.

Reynolds County, Missouri

No damage or injuries reported.

Bollinger County, Missouri

Damage reported on County Road 370, about a quarter-mile of debris was everywhere. The road has been cleared. County Road 356 had debris everywhere. The road has been cleared.

Perry County, Missouri

No reports of damage.

Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri

No damage or injuries reported.

St. Francois County, Missouri

No damage or injuries reported.

Iron County, Missouri

N/A

NWS to survey damage

The National Weather Service is sending three teams to survey the damage.

Team 1 (Rick Shanklin, Ken Ludington) - Harrisburg west toward Cape Girardeau County MO
Team 2 (Kelly Hooper, Shane Luecke) - Newburg IN West toward Harrisburg IL)
Team 3 (Christine Wielgos, Debbie Hooper) - Metropolis IL west toward Stoddard co. MO)

Note this may change as storms are in western Kentucky.  They hope to finish the surveys by late Thursday, given the severe weather threat on Friday.

See pictures and video of storm damage from cNews.  Submit photos and video to cnews@kfvs12.com.

Power outages

As of 4:10 a.m. Thursday, Ameren Illinois reports outages in:

  • 170 in Gallatin County
  • 574 in Pulaski County
  • 1 in Randolph County
  • 618 in Saline County

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to report.

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Disaster in the Heartland

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View a slideshow of storm damage. More>>

Leap Day tornadoes hit 4 states


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The more than 20 tornadoes that touched down in the Midwest between Feb. 28 and 29 hit six different states. All times are eastern. Information from the National Weather Service.
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