Monday, May 23, 2011
A tornado touched down yesterday in Joplin, Missouri, causing widespread damage. At least 89 were killed.
The path of the tornado was reported to be from one half to three quarters of a mile wide. City spokeswoman Lynn Onstot estimated the path to be nearly four miles long; Jasper County emergency management director Keith Stammer put its length around six miles.
|You see pictures of World War II, the devastation and all that with the bombing. That’s really what it looked like.|
Witnesses described entire blocks of buildings destroyed. Steve Runnels of the National Weather Service said “We have reports of significant structural damage to strong buildings. Automobiles have been flipped, bark was stripped off trees.”
Among the properties damaged was a local hospital, St. John’s Regional Medical Center. Some patients were hurt, and all were evacuated to other regional hospitals. The local high school, Joplin High School, was also hit. Describing the damage, its principal, Kerry Sachetta, said “You see pictures of World War II, the devastation and all that with the bombing. That’s really what it looked like. I couldn’t even make out the side of the building.”
Joplin has a population of about 50,000.
President Barack Obama has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support state and local efforts in response and recovery. He issued a statement with condolences to the families of victims.