Storms and tornadoes damage homes and businesses in the Midwest and South

Arkansas State Police and other first responders survey tornado damage in Jonesboro, Ark., on Saturday.
(Associated Press)

Strong storms that brought tornadoes, high winds, hail and rain to parts of the Midwest and South caused extensive damage in some areas but no deaths, officials said Sunday.

Tornadoes were spotted in Arkansas, Illinois and Iowa as thunderstorms swept through the area Saturday. High winds and a possible tornado were also reported in Indiana.

The National Weather Service said it was still assessing damage and determining the strength of the tornadoes. Among the places that were hit was a mall in Jonesboro, Ark., and an apartment building in the northeastern Iowa community of Oelwein.

In Jonesboro, most stores at the Mall at Turtle Creek were closed because of coronavirus concerns, which helped to minimize the number of injuries from the tornado.


“There are 18 injuries in this event [Saturday] and two were admitted to the hospital. No fatalities, thank God,” Craighead County Judge Marvin Day said Sunday.

Day did not provide the condition of the two people who had been hospitalized but said their injuries were not life-threatening.

“The rescue effort is complete and we have started cleanup and recovery,” said Day, the county’s top executive officer.

The Jonesboro Municipal Airport and a Busch Agricultural Resources rice mill also suffered heavy damage when the tornado struck about 5 p.m. Day said.

The tornado also derailed a Union Pacific train.

Railroad spokeswoman Amanda Treiber said that about 112 cars derailed, releasing an undisclosed flammable liquid and paint that Union Pacific said was not hazardous. Trieber said the train crew was not injured. Workers cleaned the site, and train operations resumed at about 9 a.m. Sunday.

Jonesboro, about 70 miles northwest of Memphis, has a population of about 75,000.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday he had signed a proclamation declaring the area a disaster and would travel to Jonesboro to tour the vicinity.


Hutchinson said he was visiting to “see first-hand the damage that was done to the businesses and to give them confidence that we are working with local officials to have federal emergency support in place” made possible by the disaster declaration.

In Oelwein, Iowa, a tornado tore off part of the wall of a 12-unit apartment building and damaged the siding of a second building in the complex. Police said no serious injuries were reported.

Apartment resident Jonathan Reinert said the storm damage left him without a place to stay during the coronavirus outbreak.

“I got no shelter in place now,” Reinert told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.


Oelwein, a city of about 6,000, is around 140 miles northeast of the state capital of Des Moines.

In northern Illinois, a tornado that touched down in rural Ogle County near the town of Oregon was on the ground for roughly 10 minutes, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Gino Izzi. No injuries were reported.

High winds and a possible tornado damaged homes in the southwestern Indiana town of Newburgh. One person was hospitalized for minor injuries, according to Warrick County Sheriff Mike Wilder.