Surviving an EF-3 Tornado: Mid-Missourians Describe Violent Storms

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A tornado swept through Jefferson City and right now crews with the National Weather Service are classifying it as an EF-3 tornado with winds up to 130 miles per hour.

Diminishing storms brought blue skies and along with them, came a clear view of trees down, leveled buildings, torn up scaffolding at the capital dome, and two communities already picking up the pieces.

“Never… never been in a tornado,” April Bachtel, who lives in Eldon, said. “That’s the first one for me.”

Bachtel wants to believe her eyes are playing tricks on her. But there’s no wiping away this nightmare her family almost slept through.

“I am very surprised that no one was hurt because we sleep right where that tree is on our roof,” she said. “If it would’ve come through our roof we would’ve probably been pinned in our bed.”

Neighbors in Eldon tell us this is about the worst damage you’ll see here. In fact, two neighbors we met, share a property line but had never met until today. They were introduced when his roof landed in her front yard.

Some of the city of Eldon’s concession stands and other properties were destroyed. Yet a chair from the country club a mile and a half away landed on the same corner without a scratch.

No injuries are reported in Eldon, but 30 miles to the northeast in the Missouri capital, the number of hospitalizations keep increasing.

“War zone, ya know, we hear that all the time but it looks like a war zone,” Dave Schroeder, who works in the capital, said.

Schroeder had only seen pictures of this kind of devastation before today. 

“I thought I’d never see it this close,” Schroeder said. “I’ve seen it in pictures but until you see it in real life, it really hits home”

Augie Buechter is in disbelief for a different reason.

“We’ve always been told by our older folks that a tornado would never hit Jeff City because it’s too hilly,” Buechter said.

Yet a devastating scene of bumper cars litter the outer roads of Highway 54 coming up the hill into town.

Both men believe the people in Mid-Missouri will bounce back just fine, so long as this nasty severe weather season cooperates. 

“I just want the wind to stop. It can keep blowing just not that strong,” Buechter joked.

Jefferson City schools were closed Thursday following the tornado, because of damage to schools and widespread power outages. The district says its next priority is figuring out a plan for summer school, which was scheduled to begin May 28.

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