March 1, 2017

Tornado strikes Perry County; one dead, 10 hurt

By Don Pritchard

PERRYVILLE -- Residents of Perry County are responding with determination to recover from last night's devastating tornado which resulted in the death of one and injuries to 10, and piles of property destroyed.

All of these photos taken on Highway 51 just past the Barrens Winery. Photos by Don Pritchard, except where noted.

The swath extends from west of I-55 to south of Brewer, across to Perry County Road 906 and over to Highway 51. In between were homes, grain bins, outbuildings, vehicles, and electric poles effortlessly tossed and twisted by the tornado.

Perry County Emergency Management Coordinator Hank Voelker spoke to reporters early this morning.

"This morning many Perry County and Perryville citizens are waking up to the tragic news that has so greatly impacted our community," he said. "We are deeply saddened and ask for your thoughts and prayers for those affected by this tragedy."

Voelker said the tornado resulted in deep personal loss to many.

"Last evening about 8 p.m., severe weather produced tornadoes that claimed the life of one person, and injured at least 10. Local emergency responders effected multiple rescues from vehicles on Interstate 55, homes and other structures in our community," he said. "Additional crews from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jackson Missouri Police Department, Ste. Genevieve Police Department, St. Louis County Police Department, St. Francois County Emergency Responders, Jefferson County Emergency Responders, have all been brought in to assist with additional search and rescue efforts in the most heavily damaged areas. As daylight begins and severe weather subsides, emergency crews will be out reassessing the impacted areas."

Voelker said it still may be a while before all of the residents of the affected area will be able to return to their property to assess their personal loss.

"We ask that you listen to emergency responders. If areas are not accessible, please be aware of downed power lines and other hazards from storm debris," Voelker said.

A police spokeswoman told reporters that the tornado damage is located both in rural Perry County was well as in the city limits of Perryville.

Photo by Perryville Police Department, location not known.

The American Red Cross has established a shelter at the Perry Park Center. An estimated 30 persons are staying there at this time. The shelter is allowing those staying there to bring their pets.

Anyone needing help in rounding up and housing loose cattle may call 574 547 4000 for assistance.

The Perry County Sheriff's Office advises that Highway 61 is open to local traffic only in the affected area.