Deadly Tornadoes Tear Through Kansas & Missouri

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BRANSON, Mo. — Several people were injured and at least three people were reportedly killed after a number of apparent tornadoes touched down in Kansas and southern Missouri Tuesday night.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency for several cities across the state, including Branson, Buffalo, Cassville, Lebanon and Oak Ridge.

“My emergency management team and I have been tracking these storms through the night and coordinating with local officials to ensure the safety of affected Missourians and to make sure that local responders have the resources and support they need,” Gov. Nixon said in a statement. “As we did throughout 2011’s numerous emergencies, the state of Missouri will assist at every stage of this response to keep Missouri families safe and help communities recover and rebuild.”

Deaths confirmed in Missouri

One person was confirmed dead in Buffalo, where an EF 2 tornado was confirmed. A second person was confirmed dead in Cassville. Information on the third victim was not immediately available.

Branson storm damage

In Branson, authorities said that a tornado roared through the downtown area, heavily damaging a number of the city’s famous theaters along the Missouri Highway 76 strip.

PICTURES: Branson Tornado Damage

Taney County Emergency Manager Chris Berndt said at least 41 people were injured in the Branson area. Berndt said some mobile homes in the county were completely destroyed and there were reports of numerous large trees and power lines downed by the storm.

According to KSPR-TV, two shelters have been opened in Branson, primarily to house tourists whose hotels were damaged.

Missouri 76 has been closed from Missouri 376 (Shepherd of the Hills Expressway) to U.S. 65 while authorities assess the damage from the storm.

The tornado, which struck just after 1 a.m. damaged a number of theaters and hotels along the strip. Two hotels — The Blue Bayou Inn and the Hilton — suffered serious damage from the storm.

Cassville, Buffalo and Lebanon storm damage

In Buffalo, about 35 miles north of Springfield, authorities say that one person was killed and at least a dozen other people were injured when an apparent tornado struck a mobile home park near U.S. 65 and F Highway.

In Cassville, Mo., a 70-year-old man was killed after he was thrown from his mobile home by an apparent tornado. The Barry County Sheriff’s Office said four others were injured, and several homes in the area were damaged by the line of powerful storms overnight.

According to a report from KSPR-TV in Springfield, spotters also reported a tornado on the ground near Lebanon shortly after midnight. Lebanon firefighters reported debris in the air near the Lebanon Airport.

The Laclede County Office of Emergency Management reported structural damage and power outages in and west of Lebanon, but said there were no reports of injuries.

Where to find assistance in Missouri

Missourians who need disaster information, shelter information or referrals are urged to call 211. The 211 service number is now available for most areas in Missouri. In areas where the 211 number is not operational, citizens can call 800-427-4626. Weather and emergency information also are available on the state of Missouri’s website, MO.gov.

State of emergency declared in Wabaunsee County, Kan.

In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback has declared a state of emergency in the town of Harveyville, in Wabaunsee County about 35 miles southwest of Topeka, where local authorities say that 40 to 60 percent of the town had been destroyed after an EF 2 tornado touched down just after 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Click here for video from Harveyville.

Authorities say that eight or nine people were injured in Harveyville, including at least three people reported to be in critical condition.

According to authorities, the scope of the damage in Harveyville is still being assessed and won’t be known until later in the morning, but confirm that one church — the United Methodist Church — was destroyed by the apparent tornado.

They also report many homes in and around the town have been destroyed, and that a number of trees are down. Authorities have closed K-31 and K-195 through Harveyville.

The American Red Cross is on the scene in Harveyville to help victims of the storm.

In Pittsburg, Kansas, high winds left the city’s Via Christi Hospital without power, and forced officials to close the Pittsburg State University campus.

According to the Joplin Globe, hospital officials say that the building didn’t sustain any visible damage from the 70+ mph winds, but engineers would take a closer look on Wednesday. The hospital is currently operating on its generator system, and no patients have been moved.

Officials in Pittsburg say that power outages and roof damage at an elementary school have prompted them to cancel classes. Pittsburg State University officials say that classes had been canceled for Wednesday due to storm damage on campus.

Illinois Storm Damage

In southern Illinois, authorities say that at least 10 people were killed in Harrisburg after an apparent tornado struck the town on Wednesday morning.

Click here for more coverage on the Illinois storms from KTVI FOX 2 in St. Louis.

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