(Wynne) Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms hit parts of the American South and Midwest, killing at least 18 people. The strong winds notably caused the roof of a crowded theater to collapse during a concert in Illinois.
The tornadoes made landfall Friday night into Saturday, destroying homes and businesses and stripping bark and branches from trees. They came as part of a broad storm system that also brought wildfires to the southern plains and blizzard conditions to states in the U.S. Upper Midwest.
The dead include four victims in the small town of Wynne, Arkansas, Cross County Coroner Eli Long told KAIT-TV. Other deaths have been reported in the Little Rock area, but also in Alabama, Illinois and Indiana.
Wynne City Councilwoman Lisa Powell Carter said the town some 80 miles west of Memphis, Tenn., was without power and roads were covered in debris.
“We can’t go home,” she said Friday night. Wynne is so demolished. There are destroyed houses and trees in the streets. »
In Belvidere, Illinois, a severe thunderstorm ripped through the roof of the Apollo Theater as 260 people attended a metal music concert, killing one and injuring 28, including five seriously, officials said.
People rushed to lift the collapsed part of the ceiling and pull people out of the rubble, Gabrielle Lewellyn told WTVO-TV.
“They pulled someone out of the rubble, and I sat down with him, held his hand, and said, ‘It’s going to be okay. “I didn’t really know what else to do,” Ms. Lewellyn said.
The venue’s Facebook page says the bands scheduled to play were Morbid Angel, Crypta, Skeletal Remains and Revocation.
The storms also killed three people in Sullivan County, Indiana, Emergency Management Director Jim Pirtle said in an email.
In the Little Rock area, at least one person was killed and more than two dozen were injured.
The tornado that hit Little Rock first ripped through neighborhoods in the western part of Arkansas’ capital and destroyed a small shopping center that included a grocery store. It then crossed the Arkansas River to North Little Rock and surrounding towns, where extensive damage was reported to residences, businesses and vehicles.
In the neighboring state of Indiana, two people were killed by a storm in Sullivan County, WTHI reported, citing Indiana police.
Niki Scott, a resident of Little Rock, took shelter in the bathroom after her husband called her to warn him of the tornado. She heard the glass shattering and she discovered that her house was one of the few on her street that didn’t have a tree.
“It’s like everyone says. It got very quiet, then it got very loud,” Scott said as chainsaws roared and sirens wailed.
That evening, Pulaski County authorities confirmed a death in North Little Rock.
Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders highlighted the dispatch of about 100 National Guard members to help local authorities respond to emergencies across the state.
Two states further east, a suspected tornado killed a woman in northern Alabama, Madison County, and destroyed several buildings, according to county official Mac McCutcheon.
In northern Mississippi, Pontotoc County, the emergency management agency confirmed one death and four injuries.
The weather phenomena hit just hours after US President Joe Biden visited the community of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, where tornadoes destroyed parts of the city last week.
Authorities in Tipton County, north of Memphis, said a tornado also appeared to have touched down near a college and other locations. Sheriff Shannon Beasley posted on Facebook that homes and structures were badly damaged.
Tornadoes also caused sporadic damage in eastern Iowa. A tornado deflected just west of Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa. KCRG-TV video shows toppled utility poles and ripped roofs off an apartment building in suburban Coralville and damaged homes in the town of Hills.
Nearly 90,000 customers in Arkansas have lost power, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks outages. Hail shattered windows of cars and buildings northeast of Peoria, Ill., and more than 109,000 customers lost power Friday night. Outages were also reported in Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Indiana and Texas.
Meanwhile, blizzard conditions whipped parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, knocking out power to some customers in the Twin Cities area, as the system affected a large swath of the country where some 85 million people live.
Nearly 100 new wildfires were reported in Oklahoma on Friday, according to the state Forest Service, and firefighters were hoping to gain some ground against them on Saturday. Fires will remain a danger throughout the week, especially in the north and west of the state.