Jefferson City man recounts moment his ‘whole house exploded’ as tornado hit

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – Most of the devastation around the state capital spans a 3-square-mile radius. Two dozen people were injured and at least nine were  hospitalized.

Those stats are pretty amazing when you see the conditions of the homes and apartment buildings in the path of the storm.

On Jackson Street, James Miller stood on his back porch, watching the weather move in as the tornado sirens blared.

“When the wind kicked up and started roaring, I told my wife that it was time to hit the basement,” Miller said. “She got half way down the basement steps, and I got maybe three or four steps down there before our whole house exploded.”

The second floor of Miller’s house is gone, torn off by winds between 135 to 165 mph. It now rests in his side yard on top of an uprooted tree.

A bedroom, closet, hallway and storage area now “well ventilated,” as Miller puts it.

Although keeping his sense of humor, this tornado has wiped out Miller in more than one way. Like many people in his neighborhood, he had his wife do not have insurance on their house.

“Don’t have the money,” Miller said. “Me and her is on social security. Barely have enough to pay the bills much less fix this place.”

What’s left of people’s belongings are very vulnerable in the damaged homes, so police have blocked off the affected neighborhoods, preventing anyone who doesn’t have a reason from being there.

There are also officers patrolling the streets and a curfew has been imposed from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m., beginning Thursday night.

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