(Wynne) Tornadoes hit parts of the American South and Midwest, killing at least 21 people. The strong winds notably caused the roof of a crowded theater to collapse during a heavy metal 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 larger storm system that also brought wildfires to the southern plains and blizzard conditions to states in the U.S. Upper Midwest.

Seven deaths are recorded in a county in Tennessee, four in the small town of Wynne, Arkansas, three in Sullivan, Indiana and four in Illinois.

Other deaths were reported in Alabama and Mississippi, as well as one near Little Rock, Arkansas, where city officials said more than 2,600 buildings were in the tornado’s path.

Residents of Wynne, a community of about 8,000 people 50 miles west of Memphis, Tennessee, awoke Saturday to find the high school’s roof shredded and its windows blown out. Huge trees lay on the ground, their stumps reduced to bumps. Broken walls, windows and roofs looted homes and businesses.

Debris and memorabilia of everyday life lay strewn about: clothes, insulation, roofing paper, toys, shattered furniture, and a van with shattered windows.

Ashley Macmillan said she, her husband and their children huddled with their dogs in a small bathroom as a tornado passed, “praying and saying goodbye, because we thought we were dead.” A fallen tree severely damaged their home, but no one in the family was injured.

“We could feel the house shaking, we could hear loud noises, plates banging. And then everything calmed down,” she said.

The recovery was already underway, with workers using chainsaws and bulldozers to clear the area. Utility crews worked to restore power.

At least seven people have died in McNairy County, Tennessee, east of Memphis along the Mississippi border, according to Adamsville Mayor David Leckner.

“The majority of the damage was to homes and residential areas,” Leckner said, adding that crews were going door to door.

Governor Bill Lee traveled to the county on Saturday to assess the damage, noting that the storm came days after six people were killed in a shooting at a school in Nashville.

“But it looks like your community has done what communities in Tennessee do, which is to rally together and respond,” he said.

In Belvidere, Illinois, a tornado touched down on the roof of the Apollo Theater as 260 people attended a heavy metal concert, killing a 50-year-old man and injuring 40, two of whom are between the life and death, 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.

In Crawford County, Illinois, three people were killed and eight others injured after a tornado struck around New Hebron, said Bill Burke, chairman of the county board.

Sheriff Bill Rutan said 60 to 100 families were moved.

“We had emergency crews digging people out of their basements because the house collapsed on top of them, but luckily they had this safe space to go,” Mr. Rutan explained. during a press conference.

Illinois State Rep. Adam Niemerg called the tornado “catastrophic.”

This tornado was not far from where three people were killed in Sullivan County, Indiana, about 150 miles southwest of Indianapolis.

Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb told a news conference that an area south of the county of about 4,000 people “is basically unrecognizable right now” and that several people were rescued from the rubble overnight. . At least 12 injured people were said to be injured, he said, and search and rescue teams combed through the damaged areas.

“I’m really, really shocked there aren’t more human issues,” he said, adding that recovery is “going to be a very long process.”

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.

Little Rock resident Niki Scott 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.

In the 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.

These 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, where the University of Iowa is located. 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.

As of Saturday night, more than 200,000 customers were without power in Pennsylvania and more than 120,000 in Ohio, 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 Arkansas, 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 swathe 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.

At least 32 people were injured in the fires, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health. More than 40 houses were reportedly destroyed.

The storms also brought blizzard conditions to the Upper Midwest.

A threat of tornadoes and hail remained for the northeast, including parts of Pennsylvania and New York.