x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Tornadoes slam into US

Wall-to-wall broadcasts of storm information leaves Mid-west police grateful.

SHAWNEE, UNITED STATES // Hearing on the radio that a violent storm was approaching her rural Oklahoma neighbourhood, Lindsay Carter took advantage of the advanced warning, gathered her belongings and fled. When she returned, there was little left of the community she called home.

Several tornadoes struck parts of the nation's midsection on Sunday, concentrating damage in central Oklahoma state and Wichita, Kansas. One person was killed near Shawnee, Oklahoma, and 21 injuries were reported throughout the state.

Victims and emergency responders might not get much of reprieve as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Centre was forecasting similar weather yesterday over much of the same area.

The worst of the damage on Sunday appeared to be at the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park.

"It took a dead hit," resident James Hoke said. Emerging from a storm cellar where he sought refuge with his wife and two children, Mr Hoke found that their mobile home had vanished. "Everything is gone."

Forecasters had been warning of bad weather since last Wednesday and on Sunday said conditions had ripened for powerful tornadoes. Wall-to-wall broadcasts of storm information spread the word, leaving Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth grateful.

"There was a possibility a lot more people could have been injured," Mr Booth said. "This is the worst I've seen in Pottawatomie County in my 25 years of law enforcement."

Ms Carter had heard on a radio broadcast that a storm that had originated south-west of Oklahoma City was headed toward Shawnee.

"We got in the truck and left," she said. With upwards of 30 minutes' notice for Pottawatomie County, Ms Carter had time to leave one of the few frame homes in Steelman Estates - and most of her house was intact when she returned.

"I walked up, and the house was OK. Part of the roof was gone," she said.

The scene was different a short distance away.

"Trees were all gone. I walked further down and all those houses were gone," she said.

Mr Booth said a 79-year-old man was found dead out in the open at Steelman Estates, but the sheriff did not have details on where he had lived.

"You can see where there's absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up," Booth said. "It looks like there's been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour.

"It's pretty bad. It's pretty much wiped out," he said.

Tornadoes were reported on Sunday in the states of Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma as part of a storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.