At least 26 people were killed and dozens of others were injured during the weekend when a series of tornadoes hit south central-eastern United States.
The state of Tennessee, one of the hardest hit since the storms began on Friday, recorded seven deaths in incidents related to the intense storms and tornadoes in McNairy County, east of the city of Memphis, Maggie Hannan, a regional spokeswoman for the disaster management agency, told AFP. Two more deaths in McNairy County reported Sunday increased the total number of fatalities to 26, according to the news channel WREG. The Tennessee victims were in addition to the 15 people killed in the southern states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana, and Illinois.
Multiple tornadoes were generated, some of exceptional size and power, which among others swept through parts of the state of Arkansas. At least five people were killed there, according to Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who declared a general state of emergency and mobilized the National Guard. In the State capital of Little Rock, residents had awakened Saturday to a grim scene of overturned cars, huge trees uprooted from the ground, broken phone lines, and wrecked homes. We know a lot of people had to be displaced and are seeking shelter, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said. At the same time, the city of Wynne, in the northeastern part of the state, is cut in two by the damage from east to west, lamented its mayor, Jennifer Hobbs, on CNN.
In neighboring Mississippi, emergency management services also reported one death and several injuries in Pontotoc County, south of Memphis.
Alabama recorded the death of an elderly person when his home was destroyed by a tornado, Huntsville authorities said.
In the state of Illinois, severe storms also caused death and severe damage. In the early hours of Saturday, the city of Belvidere was hit by a powerful tornado that caused the roof and part of the facade of the Apollo Theater to collapse in the middle of a heavy metal band concert. Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle confirmed one death and 28 injuries. In Crawford County, three people were killed by the collapse of a house, according to Illinois emergency management agency spokesman Kevin Sur.
Meanwhile, authorities in neighboring Indiana confirmed the deaths of three people after a storm swept through Sullivan County.
And in Delaware, one person was killed by the collapse of a structure in Sussex County. Passing through the northeastern part of the country, those hit hardest were Ohio and Pennsylvania.
”Maximum wind gusts could approach 60 miles (100 kilometers) per hour across much of Appalachia, the upper Ohio Valley, and the Mid-Atlantic today,” the National Weather System (NWS) warned Sunday. Tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings were also in effect for New York state.
More than 650,000 homes were without power Saturday in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia, according to the Poweroutage.us website.
Tornadoes, a weather phenomenon that is as impressive as it is difficult to predict, are common in the United States, especially in the Midwest and South. A week ago, a tornado ripped through Mississippi, killing 25 people and causing extensive property damage. President Joseph Biden visited the site on Friday. In December 2021, about 80 people were killed by tornadoes in Kentucky.