Live Updates: Tornadoes Rip Through Several States, Killing One at a Nursing Home
Communities in at least five states scrambled early Saturday to assess the damage from a string of powerful storms and tornadoes the night before that killed at least one person at an Arkansas nursing home and caused a roof to collapse at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois, leaving workers trapped inside.
Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky said that it was likely that at least 50 people had died in the storms in his state and that the number was expected to climb sharply after what he described as “a historic weather event.”
“The reports are really depressing,” he told the local news channel WLKY. “We had one tornado on the ground continuously for more than 200 miles in Kentucky. It hit Mayfield as hard as just about any town, maybe other than West Liberty, has ever been hit.”
“We know that we are likely to have 50 deaths, if not significantly north of that, from this event,” he said. “We are hurting for our Kentucky families out there.”
A tornado hit the Arkansas nursing home, Monette Manor in the city of Monette, about 8:15 p.m. on Friday, prompting a large response from the police and emergency workers in the area, according to Marvin Day, the Craighead County judge.
Search-and-rescue workers found one person who had died and five who had been seriously injured, Mr. Day said, correcting an earlier report that at least two people had been killed. Mr. Day said that other residential buildings in the area had also been damaged.
“It’s just really heartbreaking,” he said.
Police officers and emergency workers also responded to reports that the roof of an Amazon warehouse had collapsed in Edwardsville, Ill.
The Edwardsville Police Department said in a brief statement early Saturday that an Amazon warehouse had suffered a “partial building collapse” after a severe weather event occurred on the city’s west end at 8:33 p.m. on Friday. A search-and-rescue operation was udnerway, the statement said.
A dispatcher who answered the phone at the police department on Saturday morning said that he had no comment.
UPDATE: We’ve learned about 40 Amazon employees were taken to the Pontoon Beach Police Dept. We spoke to a man who was at the warehouse – he described seeing people buried under debris and cars tossed into a retention pond. https://t.co/LhFhs3fKUW
— Susan El Khoury (@SusanElKhoury) December 11, 2021
Herbert Simmons, the director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, said late Friday that local officials were responding to an “active scene” at the warehouse. “Right now, our concern is trying to get people who are trapped,” he said, adding that he was not sure how many people might be in the building.
A BBC reporter at the scene said around the same time that about 100 people were believed to have been inside.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois said on Twitter that the State Police and emergency management officials were working with local officials and that he would continue monitoring the situation.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At least five states were hit by tornadoes on Friday night, including Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas, said Bill Bunting, operations chief at the Storm Prediction Center, part of the National Weather Service.
Mr. Bunting said the tornadoes were part of the same weather system that was wreaking havoc in many parts of the country, causing substantial snowfall across parts of the upper Midwest and western Great Lakes.
The damage in Arkansas came after a severe thunderstorm produced a tornado that was tearing through the region, according to the National Weather Service. As of 9:17 p.m., the storm was near Trumann, Ark., and moving northeast at 55 miles per hour, bringing with it a tornado and quarter-sized hail, the Weather Service said.
On Friday night, the Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for several counties in eastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri.
“Remember, there are people affected by all these tornadoes,” Craig Ceecee, a meteorologist and a graduate student at Mississippi State University, said on Twitter late Friday as he tracked tornadoes across Kentucky. “Communities being hit hard. And we won’t know how bad it is until morning. We have to think and pray for those being affected.”