ST. LOUIS (AP) – Residents of the Midwest cleared away wreckage Saturday following a wave of powerful storms that splintered homes, knocked out power to thousands and killed six people.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed Friday in Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri and 150,000 Missouri utility customers lost power. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency.

In southern Illinois, more than 63,000 customers of the utility Ameren still had no electricity Saturday, the company said. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Saturday declared three southern counties disaster areas.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear declared an emergency in central and south-eastern sections of his state Saturday, and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin made the same declaration for six counties in that state.

Some homes were evacuated early Saturday in southern West Virginia because of flooding caused by more than 2 inches of rain, said state Homeland Security Operations Director Paul Howard.

Two people were killed near Poplar Bluff, Mo., when wind knocked a tree onto their sport utility vehicle. In Missouri’s Dallas County, a man in his 70s had a fatal heart attack after he and his wife were sucked from their home by a tornado and thrown into a field 75 to 100 feet away, said county emergency management director Larry Highfill. The wife was hospitalized in fair condition.

A 54-year-old woman was killed in southeast Kansas in a mobile home that was blown off its foundation. And in central Kentucky, officials blamed a tornado with winds of 120 mph for the deaths of two people whose bodies were found in a pond near a mobile home community.

Wind in southeast Kansas area reached 120 mph, destroying the New Albany United Methodist Church, the town’s post office and at least one home, authorities said. Major damage also was reported to a high school in Cherokee, Kan.

The National Weather Service said it received multiple reports of tornadoes from one end of Missouri to the other, mostly south of Interstate 44.

The weather service confirmed that at least two tornadoes touched down Friday morning in southwest Missouri’s Greene County. The county’s Office of Emergency Management counted three homes and one business destroyed with 298 homes, 29 businesses and 13 schools damaged.

In southern Illinois, the storm system peeled siding and roofs off homes and other buildings, blowing out car windows and tearing up trailer parks. Wind gusted to 100 mph in the Carbondale area and sustained wind was measured up to 90 mph.

Carbondale Township fire Capt. Mark Black said he wasn’t sure if a tornado touched down in his area but the “winds were just amazing. They were howling and the siding on the trailers was flying through the air and there was a pretty hard rain.”

In sparsely populated Dallas County, Mo., seven people were hurt as wind – possibly a tornado – destroyed 35 homes and damaged numerous others, state emergency management officials said.

Michael Bryant, assistant deputy emergency management director for Kentucky’s Madison County, said at least eight other people were injured by the tornado that killed two. About 150 homes are damaged and destroyed, he said.

“It sounded like an airplane taking off, but I knew it wasn’t,” said Richmond, Ky., resident Lonnie Hall, whose four-year-old home was toppled. “The wind start picking up, and I yelled to everyone ‘Let’s go to the basement.’ In 10 or 15 seconds, it was over with.”


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