Cleanup Begins After Deadly Tornado : Weather: Rare autumn storm kills 2 and injures 62 in Missouri. More than 200 homes are damaged as the twister hopscotches across subdivisions.
Rescuers on Saturday could barely reach stunned survivors through the clutter left by a rare autumn twister that tore through the city, killing two people, injuring 62 and damaging more than 200 homes.
One man was crushed when his house was lofted into the air and came down on top of him.
The tornado struck late Friday in Nixa, a small community south of Springfield, then hopscotched through three subdivisions here, authorities said.
“I’m amazed at how many got out alive,” said Greene County Sheriff John Pierpont. “I’d go to houses and people would say, ‘We’re here, we’re all right,’ and you couldn’t hardly get to them because of downed trees and debris everywhere.”
The American Red Cross reported that 53 homes were destroyed and 157 others were damaged. Greene County building regulations supervisor Jim Bresee estimated that the storm did at least $5 million to $8 million in damage.
“That’s taking homes, not all damaged property, into consideration,” he said. “So far I’ve seen at least 18 Cadillacs and BMWs flattened.”
Samuel Paul Maranto, 68, and his wife, Jo, were in their kitchen when the twister lifted the house. The second story collapsed.
“They heard the noise and tried to get to a safe place,” said Maranto’s niece, Anita Tokarczyk, standing amid the scattered ruins.
Maranto died at the scene. His wife was hospitalized with moderate injuries, family members said.
“I was afraid to move,” said Mrs. Maranto, 59. “I called for my husband, ‘Answer me if you can.’ Very weakly I heard him say, ‘Help me, help me, help me.’ When he said the last one I knew he had died.”
The second death occurred in a five-vehicle pileup on U.S. 65 during the height of the storm. Fierce winds blew cars off the road and flipped a pickup truck and its trailer, killing 54-year-old Charles L. Beaty of Dallas and injuring his wife. Nine other people also were injured, police said.
Utility officials said it probably will be Monday before electricity is restored to 750 customers. Thirty-six power poles were snapped in the storm.
The Red Cross provided shelter for those displaced, and the Salvation Army passed out clothing.
In the hard-hit Natural Bridge Estates subdivision, dotted with $500,000 homes with scenic views of the Ozark hills, stunned neighbors consoled each other and assessed the damage.
David Geisler and his family were not home when the tornado tore off the roof and one side of their two-story home. From the lawn, strewn with boards, broken glass and uprooted oaks, Geisler pointed to suits hanging neatly in his bedroom closet, with nothing but gray sky above them.
Pierpont, the county sheriff, said it was a blessing that many residents were out of town for Thanksgiving when the tornado struck.
“Some of those houses where people were gone are the ones that are completely destroyed,” he said.