Governor Jay Nixon has signed a State of Emergency Executive Order in response to the violent storm system that moved across southern Missouri today, causing at least three fatalities, several injuries, and widespread property damage.

The executive order activates the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, which opens the State Emergency Operations Center and allows state agencies to assist local jurisdictions with their emergency actions.

State agencies that can be activated for duty under the order include the Department of Public Safety, State Emergency Management Agency, State Highway Patrol, State Water Patrol, and the Division of Fire Safety.

The Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives says the storm knocked out power to about 70,000 customers in the hard-hit areas of the state.