Storms Rip Across The Midwest

Apr 15, 2012
Originally published on April 15, 2012 1:43 pm
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. A tornado that swept across the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward overnight left five people dead and several others injured. It was just one of the twisters that struck the Midwest and Plains states this weekend. As Kansas Public Radio's J. Schafer reports, more than a hundred tornadoes touched down across four states.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIREN)

J. SCHAFER, BYLINE: From Oklahoma and Kansas, northward to Nebraska and Iowa, tornado sirens were a familiar sound in many communities. Wichita, Kansas was socked by 80-mile per hour winds and large hail. Homes and businesses were damaged, especially in the southeastern part of the city. Here's what residents of Wichita heard on their weather radios when a rare tornado emergency was issued"

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Complete destruction of entire neighborhoods is likely. Mass devastation is highly likely, making the area unrecognizable to survivors. You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter.

SCHAFER: Tornadoes hit a number of Kansas towns but according to Sharon Watson, with the office of Kansas Emergency Management, Wichita suffered the most extensive damage.

SHARON WATSON: The good news is, there is no indication of any fatalities in the state. The governor did go ahead and declare a disaster declaration for a number of counties because there was a lot of damage scattered throughout the state.

SCHAFER: In western Iowa, the town of Thurman was also hit hard by a tornado that destroyed about 75 percent of the city, but no one was injured. Storms brought flooding to Iowa and Nebraska. And large hail was another major problem, especially in Norfolk, Nebraska where police reported hail in the streets up to 2 feet deep. Residents in the Midwest did have time to prepare for the storms. The National Weather Service had been predicting the outbreak for days in advance. For NPR News, I'm J. Schafer in Lawrence, Kansas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.