- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2003


Strong wind ravaged parts of Kentucky and Tennessee early yesterday, following a night when damaging tornadoes were reported in more than a dozen counties across northeastern Missouri and Illinois.

Winds up to 150 mph early yesterday tore into homes in the central Kentucky counties of Hardin, Hart and Mercer, causing 16 injuries. High winds also damaged homes and businesses in western and central Tennessee.

In Missouri, a fraternity house at Missouri’s Culver-Stockton College and dozens of buildings in the surrounding town of Canton were hit when a tornado swept through Saturday evening.

Yesterday morning, the steel dome of the college’s administrative building lay crumpled on a lawn, and the gymnasium, which had held about 1,000 people for graduation hours before the storm hit, was in ruins. Parts of a nearby mobile home park in the town of 2,500 were unrecognizable, but authorities reported no life-threatening injuries.

Another twister tore through South Pekin, Ill., 10 miles south of Peoria, destroying about 50 homes and causing extensive damage late Saturday night, said Scott Gauvin, a spokesman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Twenty-seven persons in the South Pekin area were treated at hospitals, three with serious injuries.

Tornadoes were reported in 10 counties across the central part of Illinois, National Weather Service and local emergency services officials said.

At least 25 homes in Lima, Ill., a rural community about 20 miles north of Quincy, were damaged when one tornado touched down, Mr. Gauvin said. The post office and a church in the community of about 120 people were destroyed, and the top of the water tower was gone.

“It looks like a bomb had gone off,” said Lima resident Mark Kroner.

Several funnel clouds were spotted in Sagamon County, where the Illinois capital is located, and there was some flooding from heavy rain, said Bill Russell of the county’s emergency services agency.

“We had a couple of vehicles that went into water and had to be pulled out,” Mr. Russell said.

In northeastern Kentucky, at least 17 persons were treated at hospitals and more than two dozen homes were damaged Saturday night after a tornado hit in Lewis and Mason counties near Maysville.

The storms stem from a volatile weather system that “has been hung up over the area the past two or three days,” said Chris Geelhart, a weather service spokesman. The worst of the storms appeared to have moved out of the region yesterday morning.

More than 300 tornadoes have been reported across the Midwest since the start of May, and at least 44 persons have died in the storms.

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