Deadly Tornados Tear Through Oklahoma, Arkansas & Kansas [VIDEO]
EL RENO, Okla. – Violent storms with winds of more than 150 mph slammed into a chunk of the central U.S. overnight, killing at least 13 people in three states, flattening homes, crushing cars and ripping apart a rural Arkansas fire station.
The high-powered storms arrived Tuesday night and early Wednesday, just days after a massive tornado tore up the southwest Missouri city of Joplin and killed 122 people.
The latest storms killed at least eight people in Oklahoma and two in Kansas before trekking east into Arkansas to claim three more lives.
Just outside the tiny community of Denning in western Arkansas, winery owner Eugene Post listened to from his porch as a tornado barreled toward his home. He saw the lights flicker, as the storms yanked power from the community.
"I didn't see anything," Post, 83, said early Wednesday. "I could hear it real loud though. ... It sounded like a train -- or two or three -- going by."
Department of Emergency Management spokesman Tommy Jackson said one person died in that tornado early Wednesday, and another was killed in Bethlehem, Johnson County. Franklin County's chief deputy sheriff, Deputy Devin Bramlett, said early Wednesday that a third person died in Etna.
"I don't know, it's just unbelievable," said Rick Covert, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator for Franklin County, Ark. "It's just total devastation."
A rural fire station in Franklin County was left without a roof as emergency workers rushed to the wounded. Downed trees and power lines tossed across roadways also slowed search-and-rescue crews' efforts.
Emergency officials have accounted for everyone else in Bethlehem, said county emergency management director Josh Johnston. Crews were working through the night in the hopes of saying the same thing for other communities.
Hours earlier, several tornadoes struck Oklahoma City and its suburbs during the Tuesday night rush hour, killing at least eight people and injuring at least 60 others, including three children who were in critical condition, authorities said.