Live Blog: Tornado kills 116 in Joplin, Missouri
The tornado flattened buildings, snapped trees and tossed tractor-trailers like toys as it touched down in Joplin.
May 23rd, 2011
01:39 PM ET

Live Blog: Tornado kills 116 in Joplin, Missouri

[Updated at 4:40 p.m.] A total of 116 people are confirmed dead as a result of Sunday's tornado in Joplin,Missouri, city manager Mark Rohr told reporters Monday. That means the death toll from the Joplin twister is tied for second most in U.S. history, since the National Weather Service begin keeping such records in 1950.

[Updated at 1:39 p.m.] Rescuers have pulled five families from beneath the rubble in Joplin, Missouri, where a tornado devastated up to 30% of the city, according to Gov. Jay Nixon.

"We still believe there are folks alive under the rubble and we are working hard to save them," Nixon said Monday afternoon, nearly 19 hours after the tornado struck.

[Updated at 12:02 p.m.] St. John's Regional Medical Center was hit directly by the Joplin, Missouri, tornado and suffered significant damage, according to a statement from Lynn Britton, president of Sisters of Mercy Health System, which operates the hospital. One facade of the building made of glass was blown out, and authorities evacuated the medical center.

The hospital was treating 183 people when the storm struck, Britton said. It was unclear if any were injured in the storm. The patients were taken to hospitals as far away as Springfield, Missouri, and northwest Arkansas.

Structural engineers were on their way to Joplin to assess the building, where 1,700 people work, Britton said.

[Updated at 11:50 a.m.] CNN producer Eric Marrapodi was in Joplin, Missouri, when another wave of severe storms came through Monday morning.

"As lightning pops and thunder booms, you can see the locals flinch. It's likely too close for comfort after they lost 89 neighbors to a half-mile wide twister," Marrapodi writes.

[Updated at 10:57 a.m.] Eddie Atwood, 46, a freelance photographer in Joplin, Missouri, described the damage along the city's Main Street.

"I was walking down Main Street. Everything was so razed over it was disorienting because some of the streets you couldn’t even tell where you were at. After living in Joplin all my life, it was like living in the 'Twilight Zone.'"

Zach Tusinger, 26, an attorney in Joplin, lost his aunt and uncle in the tornado. They lived five blocks from St. John's Hospital.

“Everybody’s going to know people who are dead,” he says. “You could have probably dropped a nuclear bomb on the town and I don't think it would have done near as much damage as it did.”

[Updated at 9:52 a.m.] Rev. C.J. Campbell was at home when what he described as an "evil monster vortex" hit his home at 5:55 p.m. CT. "Within 60 seconds" his house crumbled around him, he told CNN. "We thought we were going to be sucked up the chimney."

[Updated at 9:35 a.m.] More severe weather is moving into the Joplin, Missouri, area, Monday morning. A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect until 9 a.m. CT (10 a.m. ET), the National Weather Service said. The weather service said waves of severe storms were forecast for the area through Wednesday.

[Updated at 9:01 a.m.] President Barack Obama has ordered Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate and an incident management team to Joplin, Missouri, to coordinate federal disaster relief assistance efforts.

The request comes in the wake of a powerful tornado that devastated the city Sunday night, White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro said Monday.

Shapiro said Obama also called Gov. Jay Nixon to "personally extend his condolences and to tell all of the families of Joplin affected by the severe tornadoes that they are in his thoughts and prayers."

[Updated at 8:47 a.m.] Waves of strong thunderstorms are in the forecast for southwest Missouri into Wednesday, the National Weather Service reports.

[Updated at 7:42 a.m.] Isaac Duncan was nearby in Carl Junction, Missouri ,when he heard reports that the tornado was literally around the block. So he and a friend ran into the closest place they could find - a convenience store.

"When we went in the electricity was already out there and were about 20 people huddled down," Duncan told CNN. "Everyone was just deciding what to do."

Video shot inside the fridge shows little - it is dark and hard to see - but the screams and shrieking pleas for "Jesus, Jesus," "heavenly father," and "help" can be heard.

The tornado ripped through the store - and even part of the refrigerator.

"Basically the only thing left standing was the cooler that we were in," Duncan said. "Everything around it was gone. (The tornado) actually tore a few holes in the refrigerator. That's what we crawled out of."

[Updated at 7:29 a.m.] Residents of Joplin, Missouri, emerged from shelter to a city that was unrecognizable.

"It was horrible. I couldn’t even take pictures on my phone. I was crying,” resident Sara Ferguson told The Joplin Globe.

[Updated at 7:16 a.m.] In addition to the 89 people killed by the storm officials have identified about 400 people also have "relatively serious injuries" from the storm, Governor Jay Nixon told CNN.

Nixon said there are also 2,000 buildings with "very significant damage."

"It hit in the worst possible place in that town," Nixon said. "It has two functioning hospitals - it knocked one out."

Nixon echoed the sentiment of other emergency workers that the biggest priority is going to be the search and rescue mission as the sun rises.

"We're going to have to sweep the entire area (so that) we don't miss anyone," he said.

Because power is out and gas lines were leaking causing fires to spark throughout the night, Nixon said getting a clear view of how bad things are is also a top priority. Nixon too, urged residents not to go outside unless they needed to so that emergency responders could focus on getting to those in need and assessing the damage.

"It's going to be a stark view as dawn rises in Joplin, Missouri," he said.

[Updated at 7:02 a.m.] Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr told CNN that when he got the call to go out and assess the damage he was hailed by a citizen at a local church who needed help - inside were several victims. Some were dead, others alive.

"We had to remove some deceased citizens to access those people who needed help," Rohr told CNN.

Mayor Mike Woolston said based on what he's seen so far "the devastation is pretty widespread."

As the city mounts their search and rescue efforts, Woolston issued a warning to residents: "If you don't have to be out on the street, stay home."

[Updated at 6:42 a.m.] The town had about 20 minutes warning before the tornado struck, Mitch Randles from the Joplin Fire Department said during a news conference.

He said normally there is about a seven to ten minute warning before the tornado hit.

Randles said his teams first look at the impact showed the tornado "devastated the central part of Joplin."

Officials from the town said their immediate focus was going to be a search and rescue effort.

[Updated at 6:38 a.m.] Between 25 to 30% of Joplin, Missouri suffered major or significant damage from the tornado, Mitch Randles from the Joplin Fire Department said during a news conference.

"Its cut the city in half," he said, when explaining how the damage was impacting officials' ability to comb through the city for residents in need of help.

He echoed the news that 89 people were confirmed dead, but said "I anticipate that number will climb."

"I anticipate we still have people trapped in structures," Randles said.

[Updated at 6:31 a.m.] Officials in Joplin, Missouri said Monday morning that 89 people died as a result of the tornado that "tore a destructive path" through the city.

Both state and local emergencies have been declared.

The tornado's path was at least 1 mile wide in some areas and possibly larger in other areas.

"We know many people are hurting at this time and it is indeed a sad day in Joplin," City Manager Mark Rohr said during a press conference.

Rohr said the tornado went through the "major residential part" and a "large commercial district" before it moved out of town.

"We have seen homes impacted as well as schools businesses and one of our local hospitals," Rohr said. "All have been affected, but we are pulling together in our emergency operations center."

Rohr said while there is much to be done, and they don't have a specific number of people unaccounted for, the city is doing everything they can to get to those in need.

"We will recover and come back stronger than we are today," he said.

[Updated at 6:27 a.m.] A Red Cross worker estimates 75 percent of Joplin, Missouri was destroyed by last night's vicious tornado that hurled debris as far as 70 miles away.  The high school, the hospital, a couple of fire stations and a strip mall - all in shambles.  Governor Jay Nixon has called in the National Guard.

Officials are expected to hold a press conference at 6:30 a.m. to update the press on the situation on the ground. Aerials and videos show massive destruction across town.

soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Kenny Tarmac

    People, please. This was a terrible storm that negatively affected many people. Once again, don't turn your posts into a barrage of criticism over something so minor that takes away from the actual story being discussed. The more and more posts/responses I read, the more I think that us posters are spoiled without any understanding of empathy.

    May 23, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Zach

    You can view more video of the Joplin, MO tornado including a store that was hit by a tornado while a shopper recorded at http://stormchasermovies.com/tag/may-22-2011/

    May 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Please...

    Let's all sit at our computers this morning and argue over completely useless, and insignificant material. Why aren't you grateful this didn't happen in your town, or city? Quit being selfish.....and have some compassion for once.

    May 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scott

    There is no way to protect yourself against everything. As far as I know, nobody gets out of life alive. Hang in there Joplin.

    May 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lindsay

    Scientific research has indicated that tornadoes will become more frequent and more severe due to global warming and rising temperatures. We can only expect more of these catastrophes. Blaming the victims on where they live is silly, no one can predict every mother nature event, especially such a sporadic one.

    May 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mason

      Except that temperatures aren't rising; they're going down.

      May 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aezel

      @Mason Okay, if you are going to make that claim, show me ONE long term climatological record of average yearly temperatures that shows an overall decrease over the last 30 years.

      May 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aezel
      May 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThaGerGerm

      Umm, Mason where did you get your facts? Faux News? Check again, they are going up. Or do your profess that every major ice cap/shelf in the world as well as 90% of the world glaciers are receding because of a drop in temperature.

      May 23, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mason

      Finding one for over 30 years would be impossible because it's a recent occurrence.
      http://butnowyouknow.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/our-fifth-year-of-global-cooling/
      http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1866862,00.html
      http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread531871/pg1

      I'm not claiming global warming is a myth or anything, but temperatures ARE getting colder because the sun is in a 'cooling phase'

      May 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mason

      ThaGerGerm, the icecaps aren't receding at all, actually. Read up on some research that isn't biased, falsified, and focused on making money. Northern Antarctica in fact expanded in recent years and the south pole is getting colder.

      May 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. If You Agree

    The website If You Agree is selling "Save Joplin" t-shirts...$2 goes to relief efforts for every item sold....

    May 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bari

    Have some compassion! People's lives have just been destroyed. No one is safe from one type of natural disaster or another no matter where you live! I for one feel so sorry for those people. I live on Long Island and if a natural disaster was to happen to us I would hope people would rally around us as well.

    In the end we are all people, and deserve the respect and help of others in our time of need.

    May 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. May

    Pray for those who have been affected, for strength, wisdom, courage. Pray that the rest of us respond compassionately and quickly.

    May 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Al Farid

    May i have the victims name list because i have a fiance at the Missouri...
    She is Frances Marie Melvin 22 years old more less...
    She is a car dealer...
    Her cousin name Mike...
    She got frd name Chelsie and Shasha...
    I hope u can help me find her...
    Im from Malaysia.. She suppose to be here at 4th june...
    We getting married... I called her about hundred times and nobody answer...
    Plz help me...

    May 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • MidRanger

      Your fiancée is 22 "more or less"??? You guys been dating long??

      May 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Farid

      im srry i cant tell but the important thing is i need to know where is she right now...
      i called her but she dint answer me...
      she stay between Joplin and Springfield...
      I hope somebody can tell me how to find her...
      i called her since yesterday...
      plzzzz help me

      May 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nikki

      I hope that you hear from your fiancee soon. You are in my prayers.

      May 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Farid

      Thnxx Nikki.. I hope so...
      dint sleep yet since yesterday...
      Shes my life... im still calling her but nobody answer....

      May 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. KC Wildman

    It's sad to hear what happened in Joplin....but if you heard what I was hearing last night, you'd have heard in between requests for more body bags, and where to send displaced people, you would have heard a deputy saying some news crews with their sattelite trucks wanted to 'go into the scene'. It's sad to know that our own needs for more news is nothing but a distraction to those who are trying to save lives. I really hoped I'd hear 'shots fired' followed by, 'yeah, I had to shoot at the media for getting in our way'.

    May 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Michael

    NOT to sound grim, but do they have a list of the people who have died. I have a friend in Springfield, Missouri who is looking for the son of one of his employees.

    May 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Farid

      Me as well..
      May i have the victims name list because i have a fiance at the Missouri...
      She is Frances Marie Melvin 22 years old more less...
      She is a car dealer...
      Her cousin name Mike...
      She got frd name Chelsie and Shasha...
      I hope u can help me find her...
      Im from Malaysia.. She suppose to be here at 4th june...
      We getting married... I called her about hundred times and nobody answer...
      Plz help me...

      May 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cesar

    Don’t worry about your loved ones they are all dead.

    I’m happy that my mother died in the storm. She was a mean woman.

    She forced me to blow the men she slept with. I have nightmares all the time. I'm glad she’s dead.

    May 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzzzz

      o,Ellis you leave me no choice but to say I HOPE JESUS GIVES YOU BOTH BARRELLS.

      May 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThaGerGerm

      Jazzzz, unfortunately, you took a horrible comment and made it worse. Now we have a vengeful Jesus? I thought the was exactly the opposite of WWJD.

      May 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. William Andrew Summers

    12:29 pl.m. (Manhattan,KS) 23 May. I seek information about Conrad Gubera
    Joe and Pat Anderson
    and Carolyn Corine West, a Medical Technologist, working at Freeman Hospital in Joplin, who lives just E. of Baxter Springs.

    May 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andy (Bill) Summers

    23 May 12:29 p.lm. from Manhattan, Ks
    I seek assurances that
    Carolyn West, a Medical Technologist at Freeman Hospital in Joplin, (living just E.
    of Baxter Springs is OK. Also assurances re Conrad Gubera of MSSU
    Joe and Pat Anderson (retired) of Carl Junction THANKS for any info

    May 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cesar

    The world is a storm system. I am its hook echo.

    May 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
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