JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In Missouri’s capital city, first responders were out in force Thursday morning surveying the devastation left in the wake of a “destructive” tornado that touched down overnight.
Just before midnight Wednesday, a tornado hit Jefferson City. And it was a night of widespread, dangerous severe weather across the state: law enforcement officials confirmed three deaths from a tornado in Golden City, Barton County. Jefferson City, Carl Junction, and Eldon were among the areas hardest hit.
“Across the state, Missouri’s first responders once again responded quickly and with strong coordination as much of the state dealt with extremely dangerous conditions that left people injured, trapped in homes, and tragically led to the death of three people,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “I want our responders and all the neighbors who acted selflessly to help their neighbors to know how much their heroic efforts are appreciated by all Missourians.”
The damage in Jefferson City spanned a roughly 3-mile area with the most damage taking place along the south side.The tornado’s funnel was wider than its height, sending debris as high as 13,000 feet into the air, according to the National Weather Service.
At least 20 people were rescued by emergency personnel, according to law enforcement. Several homes were destroyed in the storms, leaving gaping holes exposing rooms.
As the sun rose Thursday morning, crews went door-to-door to make sure no one was trapped and to assess the damage. Parson also met with emergency personnel early Thursday and took an aerial tour of the damage.
With many buildings and areas being compromised, Parson announced non-essential state employees in the Jefferson City area should not report to work on Thursday.
“We are seeing a lot of devastation on the ground, a lot of trees down, a lot of power lines down, apartments with roofs and walls missing…It is pretty devastating,” Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said on the Today Show. “We’re in good hands here and we are taking care of each, helping our neighbors and we are going to do this and we are going to get through this.”
She noted the city was already anticipating the flooding but just didn’t anticipate the damage from the tornado.
In the wake of the severe storms and tornadoes, Attorney General Eric Schmitt urged Missourians to watch out for price gouging when buying supplies and to be wary of scams as they look to make repairs.
“My prayers are with all of those affected by these storms in Jefferson City and across the state, and I’m incredibly thankful for the tireless work of our first responders to keep Missourians safe,” said Schmitt. “Unfortunately, scammers often see disasters as a way to make a quick buck off of people who are just trying to buy supplies or rebuild. Price gouging, or raising the price on essential goods by significant amounts, is illegal, and if you see it happening, give our office a call. Due to the significant damage done to homes and businesses, major repairs will need to be made. Be wary of possible construction fraud happening in your area, and if you fall victim to a scam, call our consumer protection hotline – we’re here to help. Stay safe, Missouri.”
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.