Midwest damage assessed as storms move toward Southwest Virginia

By Erin Brookshier - Virginia Today Reporter

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - More than 100 million people are at risk for severe weather through Wednesday afternoon, including parts of Southwest Virginia. As WSLS10 meteorologists are tracking the storms that are headed our way, we're also getting a closer look at the damage these storms left behind in the Midwest.

From Illinois to Arkansas and Missouri, the storms left behind a path of destruction Tuesday evening. Experts say at least 22 tornadoes touched down in four states-- including Illinois, which saw some of the most severe weather. Police say one man was killed in Illinois after being hit by a falling tree. Other people in Marshall, LaSalle and Livingston Counties were hurt in the storms.

The mayor of Naplate, Illinois says he rushed inside a nearby fire station just moments before one of the tornadoes hit.

"We saw stuff flying through the air, signs, parts of roofs and tree limbs," says Mayor Jim Rick.

In Missouri, authorities say a man was killed driving down the interstate when a tornado sent up to 20 junkyard vehicles onto the road. Parts of Arkansas also saw severe damage especially to homes and businesses as people in the area rode out the storms in their closets and basements.

The Red Cross has some tips to keep you prepared before, during and after a severe storm.

Before Severe Weather:

  • Discuss thunderstorm safety and lightning safety with all members of your household
  • Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail
  • Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a severe thunderstorm
  • Make trees and shrubbery more wind resistant by keeping them trimmed and removing damaged branches
  • Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home

During a Severe Thunderstorm:

  • Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.
  • If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
  • Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
  • Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends.
  • If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.

After a Thunderstorm:

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway. You cannot predict how deep the water may be.
  • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or disabled.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
  • Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.

Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved