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April 28, 2014

Tornado strikes towns in Kansas, Oklahoma

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. — A band of tornadoes swept across parts of the South and Midwest Sunday, killing at least 16 people in three states and leaving scores of shattered homes, flipped-over cars and other property damage in its wake, according to CNN.

Authorities in Baxter Springs, Kan., estimate at least 100 homes and a dozen businesses were damaged by a tornado that ripped through the town Sunday night.

Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves said Monday that although there were no deaths directly attributed to the storm, one person died as the result of a medical condition, the Joplin Globe reported.

A survey team from the National Weather Service office in nearby Springfield, Mo., arrived Monday morning to begin formally surveying the damage.

Residents reported that the tornado hopscotched through the center of town, destroying a bowling alley and damaging a supermarket as well as some newly constructed ball fields in a nearby park.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a proclamation guaranteeing state emergency services for the area and was expected to visit Baxter Springs later in the week.

“I hope everyone will pray for the people of Baxter Springs,” said state Sen. Jake LaTurner, R-Pittsburg. “There’s a lot of hurting people there right now.”

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency in Quapaw, where a tornado destroyed that town’s fire station and at least five businesses. At least one death in the town of about 1,000 people was blamed on the storm, police chief Gary Graham said.

“We had very little warning,” Graham said. “The tornado formed right over town. It’s hard to inform people when we have no warning.”

Mike Griffin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service forecast office in Springfield, said he was confident that the same tornado struck both towns, which are located about six miles apart. He said teams would check an area near Seneca and Neosho, where radar showed a tornado might have formed earlier Sunday afternoon.

Additionally, another tornado touched down near Fort Scott, Kan., toppling a grain elevator, before continuing into Bates County, Mo.

Details for this story were reported by The Joplin Globe in Joplin, Mo.

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