10 Dead in Midwest, South Tornadoes 04/01 08:44
Unrelenting tornadoes that tore through parts of the South and Midwest
killed at least 10 people, shredded homes and shopping centers, and collapsed a
theater roof during a heavy metal concert in Illinois.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Unrelenting tornadoes that tore through parts of
the South and Midwest killed at least 10 people, shredded homes and shopping
centers, and collapsed a theater roof during a heavy metal concert in Illinois.
Emergency responders across the region counted the dead and surveyed the
damage Saturday morning after tornadoes touched down into the night, part of a
sprawling storm system that also brought wildfires to the southern Plains and
blizzard conditions to the Upper Midwest.
The dead included four in the small town of Wynne, Arkansas, Cross County
Coroner Eli Long told KAIT-TV. Other deaths were reported in Alabama, Illinois,
Indiana and the Little Rock area.
Wynne City Councilmember Lisa Powell Carter said the town about 50 miles (80
kilometers) west of Memphis, Tennessee, was without power and roads were full
"I'm in a panic trying to get home, but we can't get home," she said Friday
night. "Wynne is so demolished. ... There's houses destroyed, trees down on
The storms also killed three people in Sullivan County, Indiana, Emergency
Management Director Jim Pirtle said in an email. Some residents were missing in
the county seat of Sullivan, near the Illinois line about 95 miles (150
kilometers) southwest of Indianapolis.
At least one person was killed and more than two dozen were hurt, some
critically, in the Little Rock area, authorities said.
In Belvidere, Illinois, the roof of the Apollo Theatre collapsed during a
tornado, killing one person and injuring 28, five severely. Calls began coming
from the theater, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) northwest of Chicago, shortly
before 8 p.m., police said. The venue's Facebook page said the bands scheduled
to perform were Morbid Angel, Crypta, Skeletal Remains and Revocation.
Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle said 260 people were in the venue.
Responders also rescued someone from an elevator and had to deal with downed
power lines outside the theater.
Belvidere Police Chief Shane Woody described the scene after the collapse as
"chaos, absolute chaos."
Gabrielle Lewellyn had just entered the theater when a portion of the
"I was there within a minute before it came down," she told WTVO-TV. "The
winds, when I was walking up to the building, it went like from zero to a
thousand within five seconds."
Some people rushed to lift the collapsed portion of the ceiling and pull
people out of the rubble, said Lewellyn, who wasn't hurt.
"They dragged someone out from the rubble and I sat with him and I held his
hand and I was (telling him) 'It's going to be OK.' I didn't really know much
else what to do."
A tornado also killed a woman and critically injured three other people in
Madison County, Alabama, emergency services worker Don Webster told WAFF-TV.
The tornado in Little Rock tore first through neighborhoods in the western
part of the Arkansas capital and shredded a small shopping center that included
a Kroger grocery store. It then crossed the Arkansas River into North Little
Rock and surrounding cities, where widespread damage was reported to homes,
businesses and vehicles.
Little Rock resident Niki Scott took cover in the bathroom after her husband
called to warn her of a tornado. She could hear glass shattering and emerged to
find that her house was one of the few on her street that didn't have a tree on
"It's just like everyone says. It got really quiet, then it got really
loud," Scott said afterward, as chainsaws roared and sirens blared.
In the evening, officials in Pulaski County announced a confirmed fatality
in North Little Rock.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders activated 100 members of the National Guard to
help local authorities respond throughout the state.
The unrelenting tornadoes continued touched down in the region into the
The police department in Covington, Tennessee, said on Facebook that the
west Tennessee city was impassable after power lines and trees fell on roads
when the storm passed through Friday evening. Authorities in Tipton County,
north of Memphis, said a tornado appeared to have touched down near the middle
school in Covington and in other locations in the rural county.
Tipton County Sheriff Shannon Beasley said on Facebook that homes and
structures were severely damaged.
Tornadoes also caused sporadic damage in eastern Iowa. One veered just west
of Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa. Video from KCRG-TV showed toppled
power poles and roofs ripped off an apartment building in the suburb of
Coralville and significantly damaged homes in the city of Hills.
Nearly 90,000 customers in Arkansas lost power, according to poweroutage.us,
which tracks outages. Outages were also reported in Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee,
Wisconsin, Indiana and Texas.
In Illinois, Ben Wagner, chief radar operator for the Woodford County
Emergency Management Agency, said hail broke windows on cars and buildings in
the area of Roanoke, northeast of Peoria. More than 109,000 customers had lost
power in the state as of Friday night.
There were more confirmed twisters in Iowa, wind-whipped grass fires in
Oklahoma, and blizzard conditions in the Upper Midwest as the storm system
threatened a broad swath of the country home to some 85 million people.
Fire crews battled several blazes near El Dorado, Kansas, and some residents
were asked to evacuate, including about 250 elementary school children who were
relocated to a high school.