People across the United States rushed Sunday to examine the damage caused by strong storms that spawned perhaps dozens of tornadoes from the South and Midwest into the Northeast, killing at least 33 people.
The storms ripped into Arkansas’s capitol and also destroyed the roof of a crowded music venue in Illinois, stunned residents throughout the region with the extent of the destruction.
The number of deaths continued to grow Sunday.
“While we are still assessing the full extent of the damage, we know families across America are mourning the loss of loved ones, desperately waiting for news of others fighting for their lives, and sorting through the rubble of their homes and businesses,” President Biden said in a statement.
At least 15 deaths were reported across Tennessee, with nine storm-related deaths in McNairy County, Tennessee, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency confirmed to CBS News Sunday night. Three others were killed in Shelby County, TEMA said.
In Tennessee’s Tipton County, one weather-related fatality and 28 injuries were blamed on the storm, according to Tipton County Sheriff Shannon Beasley. Roane and Henry Counties each recorded one storm-related death as of Sunday night, TEMA said.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee visited the area on Saturday to inspect the damage and comfort people. He described the storm as the “worst” week of his governorship, occurring just days after a school massacre in Nashville that killed six people, including a family friend whose burial he and his wife had just attended.
“What has happened in this neighborhood, county, and state is horrific,” Lee remarked. “Yet, it appears that your town has done what Tennessee communities do: unify and respond.”
Rachel Milam and her 6-year-old daughter resided in the basement with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend in their home on the outskirts of Waynesboro, Tennessee.
As the tornado approached and made whooshing sounds like a washing machine, everyone crammed into the bathroom of the cinder block basement on Friday night.
“The shower curtain dropped as it ripped the roof off,” Milam, 26, explained on Sunday. “So I’m digging through the shower curtain to see. I noticed darkness, and then rain began to pour.”
Then absolute terror.
“And the house — I watched it pick up and move … about six inches and then pick up and it was gone.”
“I was just thinking it’s gonna take the tub, like we’re going to be gone,” she said.
A piece of wood fell over them. So did a mirror. “We were fine and just thankful that we made it out alive,” Milam said.
Milam, a nurse, quickly assisted other neighbors in excavating people out of ruined homes. A helicopter was used to transport one woman who suffered a laceration on her face and other portions of her body. Rescuers used chainsaws to cut through the debris to extract another man from the remains of his home.
Jeffrey Day said he contacted his daughter after hearing on the news that their neighborhood of Adamsville had been damaged. She answered the phone while huddled in a closet with her 2-year-old kid as the storm passed over.
“‘What do I do, daddy?’ she continued asking.” Day began to cry. “I had no idea what to say.”
His daughter crawled out of her ruined home and drove to close family once the storm passed.
According to the Sussex County authorities, at least one person was killed on Saturday evening when a suspected tornado caused a structure near the Delaware town of Greenwood to collapse.
In an email, Bethany DeBussy, the town manager of nearby Bridgeville, Delaware, informed CBS News that there had been several complaints of vehicle accidents and entrapments, downed power lines, and gas leaks.
The National Weather Service confirmed on Sunday that the damage in Bridgeville was caused by a tornado. According to Delaware State Police, one victim was found deceased inside a substantially damaged house Saturday night.
A 90-year-old woman died inside her home after it was demolished by a tornado near Huntsville, Alabama, according to Don Webster, a spokesperson with Huntsville Emergency Medical Services.
Wynne, in northeastern Arkansas, was also damaged. According to the town’s coroner, four persons were killed. Authorities also stated that many were trapped in the rubble of wrecked homes.
Residents of Wynne, Tennessee, a town of roughly 8,000 people located 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Memphis, awoke Saturday to discover the high school’s roof torn and its windows blasted out.
Ashley Macmillan described how she, her husband, and their children crouched in a toilet with their dogs as a tornado went through, “praying and saying farewell to each other, because we thought we were dead.” A falling tree severely destroyed their home, but they were unharmed.
Authorities reported that more than two dozen people were injured, some gravely, in the Little Rock region. According to Madeline Roberts, a Pulaski County Emergency Management Agency representative, one weather-related death has been recorded in North Little Rock.
Biden has proclaimed large sections of the country to be major disaster zones, releasing federal resources and financial aid for rehabilitation.
In Arkansas, where at least five people were slain, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders had already proclaimed a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard.
Tornadoes confirmed or suspected in 11 states wrecked houses and businesses, snapped trees, and wreaked havoc on neighborhoods.
James Pirtle, the emergency management director for Sullivan County, Indiana, informed CBS News that three people had died.
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The destructive weather came as President Biden earlier Friday toured the aftermath of the tornado that struck Mississippi one week ago, killing at least 21 people.
“While we are still assessing the full extent of the damage, we know families across America are mourning the loss of loved ones, desperately waiting for news of others fighting for their lives, and sorting through the rubble of their homes and businesses,” Mr. Biden said in a statement on Sunday.
During a tornado struck Belvidere, Illinois, a theater roof collapsed, killing a 50-year-old man and injured around 40 others, officials reported in a news conference Saturday.
The collapse occurred as a strong storm moved across the neighborhood, according to the Belvidere Police Department, and reports began flooding in from the cinema at 7:48 p.m. The original assessment was that a tornado caused the damage.
The fall occurred during a heavy metal concert at the Apollo Theatre about 70 miles northwest of Chicago.
According to Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle, two injured had life-threatening injuries, two had severe injuries, 18 had moderate injuries, and five had minor injuries.
According to Alicia Tate-Nadeau, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, three persons were murdered when a residential structure fell in Crawford County.
According to the Warren Township Police Department, a 13-year-old girl was killed Saturday afternoon when a large oak tree toppled over her home, trapping her beneath the wreckage.
According to authorities, firefighters were delayed in reaching the girl because of the considerable damage, which made the structure unsafe. She died on the spot. Warren Township is located around 50 miles east of Cleveland.
One weather-related death and four injuries occurred in Pontotoc County Friday, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
Meanwhile, the Little Rock tornado ripped through western communities, destroying a small commercial area that housed a Kroger grocery store. It subsequently crossed the Arkansas River into North Little Rock and the surrounding cities, causing extensive damage to houses, businesses, and cars.
Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock officials told KATV Friday that 21 patients had come in with tornado-related injuries, with five in critical condition.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr., who said that he had requested National Guard assistance, tweeted Friday evening that the property damage was substantial and that “we are still reacting.”
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders ordered 100 Arkansas National Guard personnel to assist local authorities in responding to the devastation around the state.
Niki Scott of Little Rock sought refuge in the bathroom when her husband called to warn her that a tornado was on its way. She could hear glass shattering as the tornado passed, and when she emerged, her house was one of the few on her block that hadn’t had a tree fall on it.
“It’s exactly what everyone says. It became extremely quiet, then extremely loud “Scott claimed later, as chainsaws raged and sirens blared around him.
At Clinton National Airport, passengers and workers sheltered temporarily in bathrooms.
Sanders confirmed that about 50 miles west of Memphis, Tennessee, the small city of Wynne, Arkansas, saw widespread tornado damage.
One tornado passed near west of Iowa City, which is home to the University of Iowa. KCRG-TV video showed downed power lines, roofs ripped off an apartment building in the Coralville suburb, and severely damaged residences in Hills.
Wind gusts of up to 60 mph fanned fast-moving grass fires in neighboring Oklahoma. Residents in far northeast Oklahoma City were asked to evacuate, and portions of Interstate 35 were closed.
In Illinois, hail damaged windows on automobiles and businesses in the Roanoke region, northeast of Peoria, according to Ben Wagner, chief radar operator for the Woodford County Emergency Management Agency. As of Friday night, more than 109,000 people in the state had without power.
Several fires were fought near El Dorado, Kansas, and some residents were asked to evacuate, including approximately 250 elementary school pupils who were transported to a high school.
A traffic control scheme was implemented at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, causing inbound planes to be delayed by over two hours on average, according to WFLD-TV.
The Storm Prediction Center of the National Weather Service had predicted an abnormally big outbreak of thunderstorms with the potential for hail, destructive wind gusts, and violent tornadoes that might move for extended distances over the earth.
As global temperatures rise, such “intense supercell thunderstorms” are projected to become more common, particularly in the South.
The weather service predicts another round of severe storms in the same general area as last week on Tuesday.
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