Powerful tornadoes rip through in Arkansas and Oklahoma, killing at least 17 people and wiping out entire neighborhoods. Vanessa Johnston reports.
Fierce storms spawned deadly tornadoes across the south and central U.S. on Sunday, leaving at least 16 dead in Arkansas and weaving a long trail of debris.
Sheriff Andy Shock of Faulkner County, Ark., said at least ten people in the county were killed, KTHV-TV in Little Rock reported. "It's just devastating," Shock said, adding that he expects the number to rise.
Brandon Morris with the state Department of Emergency Management said one person is confirmed dead in White County, Ark., the television station reported. The twister carved a 30-mile trail of damage, and tens of thousands in central Arkansas were without power.
Among the ruins was a new $14 million intermediate school in Vilonia, north of Little Rock, that was set to open this fall.
"There's just really nothing there anymore. We're probably going to have to start all over again," Vilonia Schools Superintendent Frank Mitchell said after surveying what was left of the building.
The Arkansas twister destroyed multiple vehicles and caused wrecks along Interstate 40 near Mayflower, KTHV-TV reported.
"About 30 vehicles — large trucks, sedans, pickup trucks — were going through there when the funnel cloud passed over," Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police, told the Associated Press.
Lt. Carl Minden with Pulaski County Sheriff's Office told KHTV three people died along the 4000 block of Deer Drive in Pulaski County; several other people were transported to an area hospital. Two additional deaths in Pulaski County were reported by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.
Hours before the Arkansas tornado struck, a twister hit the small northeastern Oklahoma town of Quapaw, killing one person, according to Ottawa County sheriff dispatcher Kelli Soechs.
After hitting Quapaw, the tornado moved north to Kansas and hit Baxter Springs about 5 miles away. Cherokee County, Kan., sheriff's dispatcher Josh Harvey said the tornado injured several people.
Another tornado landed in central Nebraska and the Weather Channel cited reports of tornadoes in Iowa.
The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center said more storms were expected Monday in the South and Mississippi Valley.
Helicopter footage shows the tornado aftermath in central Arkansas.