Powerful storms pound several central US states


The National Weather Service issued tornado watches and a series of warnings in a dozen states, stretching northeast from Texas though the Mississippi River valley to Ohio.

"Everybody's working as fast and furious as possible," said Beverly Poole, the chief meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office in Paducah, Ky., which covers southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois. "This is just a wild ride."

There were no immediate reports of deaths from the new round of storms, though authorities reported dozens of minor injuries following brief tornado touchdowns in Missouri and Indiana.

Wednesday's storms followed a deadly outbreak Tuesday in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas that killed at least 15 people. The nation's deadliest single tornado since 1950 killed 125 on Sunday in the southwest Missouri city of Joplin.

Heavy rain, hail and lightning pounded Memphis on Wednesday night as a tornado warning sounded. Menacing clouds showed some rotation, but there were no confirmed reports of tornadoes touching down.

Southern Indiana authorities said at least 12 people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries after a tornado touched down along U.S. 50 east of Bedford, flattening homes, barns and other structures in its path.

"The guys on the ground there say it's a predominantly rural area, which is fortunate for the masses but of course not for the people nearby," said Sgt. Brian Olehy of Indiana State Police.

There were also injuries reported when a storm struck a mobile home park west of Bloomington, state police said. Authorities were on their way to the scene but had to clear downed tree limbs and power lines from the roads first.

The Herald-Times reported emergency responders in the area were conducting search and rescue operations and that a gas line in the area ruptured.

Earlier in the day, as many as 25 people suffered minor injuries when a tornado damaged several homes and businesses in the central Missouri city of Sedalia. Officials said most were able to get themselves the hospital for treatment.

"Considering the destruction that occurred in Joplin -- being that we're in tornado alley and Sedalia has historically been hit by tornadoes in the past -- I think people heeded that warning," Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond said. "And so, I think that helped tremendously."

Officials in Sedalia ended the school year several days early because of damage to buses. In one hard-hit neighborhood, law officers stood on corners and electrical crews worked on power lines as people cleaned debris and sifted through belongings.

One of the heavily damaged homes was the house of Priscilla McCabe, 61, and her 30-year-old son Sean McCabe, who was home when the tornado struck. Sean McCabe was headed to the basement and says the storm shoved him down the final flight of steps. He had scraps and cuts on his hands, wrists, back and feet. Blood was visible in the house, and much of the roof of the house was gone.

"I saw little debris and then I saw big debris, and I'm like OK, let's go," said Sean McCabe, who has a service dog for epilepsy. "All I could think about was the dogs."

Law enforcement agencies reported one home destroyed late Wednesday afternoon in the rural Carter County town of Ellsinore, about 150 miles south of St. Louis.

In Illinois, high winds, rain and at least four possible tornadoes knocked down power lines and damaged at least one home and a number of farm buildings across the central and eastern parts of the state.

"Mostly it was shingles off roofs and garages," said Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson.

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