Thursday, May 14, 2009

Vanguard News Network's Alex Linder Unhurt, Home Undamaged After Tornadic Outbreak In Kirksville, Missouri Which Took 3 Lives And Destroyed 50 Homes

Update May 14th: KTVO Channel 3 now reports a third fatality, in Sullivan County. Title of post also updated to reflect the information.

The Vanguard News Network Forum online community breathed a collective sigh of relief to find out that VNN webmaster Alex Linder was unhurt and his home undamaged in the major tornadic outbreak which struck the area of Kirksville, Missouri on Wednesday May 13th, 2009.

On this VNN Forum thread, Linder expressed surprise to learn of the destruction in his community. He stated that in his part of town, he merely received a brief heavy shower, and the lights in his home flickered briefly. He was also appalled to find out that during the height of the storm, a local black man was busy sticking up a liquor store. In New Orleans after Katrina, blacks showed similar tendencies. Apparently, neither rain, snow, sleet, gloom of night - nor tornadoes - can keep black predators from their appointed rounds.

Another person, Sean P. Aune, also rode out the storm O.K. and posted his account HERE. But many residents were not as fortunate as Alex Linder or Sean Aune. According to the Kirksville Daily Express, a family of four tornadoes ripped through Adair County, where Kirksville is located, on Wednesday evening. So far, three people lost their lives (their identities have not been released, although KBIA 91.3 reported that the woman was an elderly lady who lived in a mobile home). One of the tornadoes destroyed an automobile dealership and at least 50 homes on the north end of Kirksville. KTVO Channel 3 also filed a report. Here's a video of one of the tornadoes from a local stormchaser:

According to a press release issued by the City of Kirksville (map HERE), two tornadoes were first sighted and reported near Novinger at approximately 5:48 p.m. A third tornado was sighted in Kirksville at approximately 6 p.m., while the fourth was reported in the Troy Mills area. The tornado touched down in Kirksville in the area of Industrial Road, and continued through Jim Robertson’s Automobile Dealership, where the windows were blown out and the building received extensive damage, and several cars overturned. It then moved on to Bobwhite Drive.

There have been other reports of heavy damage in the area. “From what I understand, there are a number of structures damaged, phone lines down, electrical wires down, cars that have been damaged,” Kirksville Police Chief Jim Hughes said. “So at this point in time, we’re really at the damage assessment phase. We’ll be working throughout the night.”

Several homes were damaged in the Lakeside development just east of Jim Robertson's. There have been reports of major damage at the Bobwhite development, though responders have indicated there were no injuries.

Adair County Sheriff Robert Hardwick said damage is widespread in the county. “There is a lot of devastation,” he said. “It goes southwest in the county to the Linn County line, all the way out to Steer Creek and Highway 11 east. There is a lot of devastation, especially east on Steer Creek Way and also in the Novinger area.”

Here are several posts from the Kirksville Socialite showing pictures of damage and even a screen capture of the weather radar sequence from the time:

-- Storm Pics Round 1
-- Tornado Rumbles Through Kirksville
-- First Confirmed Pictures Of Tornado
-- Tornado Update (Radar Images)

Lynne Sanders, who lives on Dairy Road off Highway P, said a tornado went between her home and a rental home she owns, flipped over one shed, destroyed another, sucked up a barn, but left the horses inside. Her home was undamaged. Caitlin Kilmer, who lives farther east on Steer Creek Way, was herding cattle into a barn when her brother pulled into the driveway, screaming at her to get in the basement.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning shortly after 5 p.m. A tornado was sighted in Novinger, Mo., approximately 10 miles west of Kirksville, around 5:49 p.m., and was reported moving toward the Kirksville area.

Emergency dispatchers stated there were no injuries in Novinger. The Red Cross has opened an emergency shelter at the Rehoboth Baptist Church on 100 Pfeiffer Street.

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