[Photo on the right is a sculpture in Webb City, Missouri, which is close to Joplin.]
Here is the latest information on the devastating tornado that hit Joplin. As of this morning, at least 89 people died in the natural disaster.
From the AP:
City manager Mark Rohr announced the number of known dead at a pre-dawn news conference outside the wreckage of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday’s storm. Rohr said the twister cut a path nearly six miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town, adding that tornado sirens gave residents about a 20-minute warning before the tornado touched down on the city’s west side.
Much of the city’s south side was leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins.
Fire chief Mitch Randles estimated that 25 percent to 30 percent of the city was damaged, and said his own home was among the buildings destroyed as the twister swept through this city of about 50,000 people some 160 miles south of Kansas City.
“It cut the city in half,” Randles said.
An unknown number of people were injured in the storm, and officials said patients were scattered to any nearby hospitals that could take them.
And here’s more from Eli Yokely, who resides near Joplin:
The scene on the ground is simply catastrophic. On Rangeline Road south of Seventh Street, the Academy Sports store, Wal Mart Supercenter, and Home Depot have all been flattened. The Plaza Apartments on 15th street have also been destroyed. Additionally, parts of Joplin High School have been damaged, and the Franklin Technology Center has been completely destroyed.
On the southernmost part of Joplin, a fire and significant damage caused St. Johns Regional Medical Center to be evacuated. A reporter for KSNF-TV reported a makeshift morgue has been set up in the area.
President Barack Obama released the following statement on the Joplin tornado:
Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in the tornadoes and severe weather that struck Joplin, Missouri as well as communities across the Midwest today. We commend the heroic efforts by those who have responded and who are working to help their friends and neighbors at this very difficult time. At my direction, FEMA is working with the affected areas’ state and local officials to support response and recovery efforts, and the federal government stands ready to help our fellow Americans as needed.
Meanwhile, more severe weather is expected to hit the region.
My thoughts and prayers go out to everybody in the area.