A “violent tornado” whirled across Jefferson City, Missouri on May 22, 2019, sending at least nine people to the hospital and causing massive structural damage throughout the capital community. Aerial and other Jefferson City photos and videos captured the damage.
Authorities said, thankfully, that there were no fatalities, however.
It all made for a frightening night. For hours, the scanner was preoccupied with multiple rescues. People were trapped in an apartment building and in homes. Power lines were down, trees were down, homes were damaged, and scanner traffic even described some citizens as the “walking wounded.”
However, in their first news conference, police said that, although there were multiple injuries, no deaths resulted, in Jefferson City, at least.
That wasn’t true elsewhere in the state, where 3 people were killed near Golden City, and authorities said as many as 20 people were wounded overall.
Here’s what you need to know:
Some State Buildings Were Damaged & Nine People Sent to Jefferson City Hospitals
As is common in fast-moving tragedies, some social media reports did not appear accurate, authorities stressed.
“There are erroneous reports that 100 people are hospitalized in Jefferson City due to the tornado. The State Emergency Operations Center has confirmed nine patients at Jefferson City hospitals due to storm-related injuries,” Missouri public safety reported on the morning of May 23, 2019.
As daylight rose across Jefferson City, the scope of the damage became clear. Although no one lost their lives, the scene was one of great devastation.
Throughout the night scanner traffic had indicated that; reports ranged from hotel damage to roofs torn off and, at one point, the Jefferson City Fire Department even urged, “pray for our citizens.”
The three deaths elsewhere in Missouri from the massive weather system occurred in Barton County near Golden City.
“I don’t know if they have major structural damage, but there is a lot of damage to a lot of facilities here in Jefferson City,” Gov. Mike Parson said.
More Than 170 Tornadoes Have Struck the United States in a Short Time Frame
The twister which hit the Missouri capital is one of 171 to strike the United States since Friday, most in Missouri and Oklahoma, the National Weather Service says. The destructive twister moved northeast at 40 mph, AP reported. A state track meet has been postponed.
Lt. David Williams first addressed the media just after 2 a.m. on May 23, indicating there were injuries but no deaths in Jefferson City. “It’s a chaotic situation right now,” Williams said.
“Right now we have no confirmation of any fatalities related to this storm. We have identified several people who are injured because of this,” he said. “We are receiving multiple calls of people trapped in their homes…we do have debris on some homes.” He said it was too early to say how many injuries there were, but he said there were multiple injury calls. In the morning, the figure given was 9 taken to hospitals.
Authorities gave this timeline: The first rotation from the wedge tornado was reported at 11:30 p.m. on May 22, 2019. Damage was reported by 11:37. Inside the city limits, damage calls came in starting at 11:47 p.m.
“Everything from debris from a rooftop into the street, uprooted trees, damage to vehicles, roofs of businesses,” Williams said. “There are several businesses…we are trying to assess how much damage there is to the buildings. There are no reported structural damage as far as buildings collapsing, but it’s early to say.”
However, authorities said in their first press conference that no buildings collapsed.
“At this time we are still trying to determine how much damage we have,” Williams said. “We are still working very hard to determine any injured people…we need to have people who are not affected stay out of the area.” Law enforcement personnel from surrounding areas were coming to help. “We are try to identify locations for the displaced citizens.”
At 11:10 p.m., sirens went off. Soon after, wind damage was reported. “Ellis Boulevard area…as well as Stadium and Dunklin,” he said, describing the focus. Debris was being cleared from the roadway, said Williams.
Missouri’s Governor Praised the State’s First Responders
The scanner traffic captured the calm, methodical manner in which fire and rescue professionals responded during the night. By morning, the state’s governor had nothing but praised for them.
“Across the state, Missouri’s first responders once again responded quickly and with strong coordination as much of the state dealt with extremely dangerous conditions that left people injured, trapped in homes, and tragically led to the death of three people,” the governor said.
“Major tornados across state tonight, including Jeff City. We’re doing okay but praying for those that were caught in damage, some are still trapped – local emergency crews are on site and assisting,” Gov. Mike Parson wrote initially on Twitter. Two hours after the twister hit, rescuers were still going painstakingly through the city of more than 42,000 people, clearing buildings.
Firefighters were marking cleared buildings and areas with fire line tape.
“All a large tornado has hit parts of Jefferson City,” the Jefferson City Fire Department wrote on Facebook. “All Jefferson City Firefighters have been called back and are beginning rescue operations. Please Pray for our Citizens.” People were trapped in elevators around 1 a.m.