At least 19 people were reported killed in an early tally in the wake of dozens of tornadoes that tore across 7 states on April 27 in the south-central United States. The storms also injured dozens of people and destroyed hundreds of homes.
(Editor’s Note: Tuesday morning Associated Press reports put the death toll at high as 28 people from three days of storms.)
The catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide blamed a massive storm system spawned on April 27 for causing the deaths and destruction. As many as 30 tornadoes came out of this latest thunderstorm outbreak, just a few days after a number of tornadoes struck parts of North Carolina, AIR Worldwide pointed out.
As many as 15 of the 30 tornadoes hit Arkansas, according to Federal Emergency Management data cited by the Insurance Information Institute. Five hit Iowa, four struck Kansas, and three tornadoes landed in Nebraska, the III said. Louisiana, Missouri, and Oklahoma each got hammered by a single tornado from this massive front, FEMA said.
FEMA’s briefing noted 19 reported fatalities, 16 of which took place in Arkansas.Oklahoma also faced two unconfirmed deaths from the storm and Kansas had a single unconfirmed fatality, the III said. The numbers are likely preliminary until rescue workers and other officials can assess the full extent of the damage.
Arkansas was hit the hardest, according to AIR Worldwide, with winds tearing off roofs, destroying homes and tossing large, empty rigs more than 100 feet into the air. The town of Vilonia in the state, with 4,000 people, had entire neighborhoods leveled by the storm. More than 16,000 homes and businesses in the state were without power as of April 28.
Kansas also faced its share of trouble, with the storm damaging homes and businesses and toppling a grain elevator onto railroad tracks, derailing several cards, AIR Worldwide said.
Tornadoes are among the largest causes of insured losses in any given year, the III said, accounting for 36% of all insured losses since 1983. Typically, standard homeowners and business insurance policies cover hurricane, tornado or thunderstorm-related wind damage to the structure of insured buildings and their contents, the III noted.
Next at risk for tornadoes as the storm threat continues: Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee, according to AIR Worldwide.