The National Weather Service (NWS) in Springfield will be sending two survey teams across the Ozarks on Wednesday morning to view storm damage and try to confirm if tornadoes caused the damage.
NWS Springfield meteorologist Tom Olsen tells Missourinet they issued eight tornado warnings on Tuesday. Olsen says the survey teams will be working to determine if tornadoes caused the damage, and if so, the intensity of them.
One of the survey teams will be heading to southern Missouri’s Hartville, which is about an hour east of Springfield. State Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, says there is major damage to the town’s only grocery store.
“You’ve got to drive 45 minutes to Lebanon (to get to another grocery store), you’ve got to drive probably at least 30, 45 minutes to Mountain Grove to get to a Walmart,” Kelly says.
Representative Kelly credits the Town and Country Supermarket’s manager for saving lives.
“The manager, of course, was quick on his feet and got everybody into the freezer from what I’ve been told, and because of that, they were able to see no loss of life,” says Kelly.
No fatalities nor serious injuries have been reported.
The store manager, Josh Dugger, tells our Springfield television partner KOLR-10 that 25 employees and customers went inside the produce cooler to wait out the storm. He says the storm “popped all our ears.”
Dugger tells KOLR-10 that the supermarket’s ceiling has fallen in and that the structure needs to be boarded up. He says the store’s top priority now is removal of the debris.
Insurance adjusters and debris removal crews are expected to arrive at the store in the morning.
Meantime, the NWS Springfield survey team is also expected to visit the Wright County Courthouse in Hartville on Wednesday. Representative Kelly tells Missourinet there is damage outside the courthouse, where she says people huddled in the basement during the storm.
“There’s a lot of debris all around the courthouse from the storm and from what we presume to be a tornado,” Kelly says. “All of the fences, the construction fences are all wiped out and everything.”
Construction crews have been working to build a new jail in Hartville, which is the county seat.
Kelly says volunteer firefighters have been working to remove debris there and at the nearby supermarket.
She also says volunteers have delivered hot food, including chili and spaghetti, to Hartville first responders. Kelly is asking people to pray for those impacted by the storms.
Kelly also says the storm system destroyed about 40 trees at her aunt’s home in nearby Mansfield.
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with State Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, which was recorded on May 21, 2019:
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