For all the jokes we had about the rapture, the people of Joplin, Missouri probably feel like the world did end on Sunday.
As rescue workers continue to search through the flatted town, they have confirmed a total of 116 people dead, which is almost 30 people more than the death toll reported Monday.
The tornado tore a six-mile-long, half-mile wide path through the middle of Joplin on Sunday. Much of the city’s south side was leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins by winds of up to 165 mph. Officials estimate 2,000 buildings were damaged.
There’s some good news. City Manager Mark Rohr says seven people were rescued. Gov. Jay Nixon said at a news conference on Monday afternoon that he’s confident other survivors will be found.
The chief executive officer of St. John’s Regional Medical Center, Gary Pulsipher, confirms five patients at the hospital were among the 116 people killed during the tornado that tore through Joplin on Sunday.
Dr. Jim Roscoe earlier compared the carnage at the hospital to what he saw when he responded to the Hyatt Regency disaster in 1981 in Kansas City and last year in Haiti after a devastating earthquake. Roscoe says some staff members who responded to the hospital after the storm already were injured, but worked all night long anyway. He says he arrived at the hospital soon after the tornado hit and it looked like it had been in a nuclear disaster.
Roscoe says the loss of cell phone signals Sunday night added to the chaos.
The National Weather Service says the tornado that swept through Joplin packed winds up to 198 mph. The weather service’s director, Jack Hayes, says the storm was given a preliminary label as an EF4 – the second-highest rating given to twisters. The rating is assigned to storms based on the damage they cause.
Hayes said the storm had winds of 190 to 198 miles per hour. At times, the storm was three-quarters of a mile wide. He says survey teams from the National Weather Service are on the scene and will make a final determination on the rating on Tuesday.
So far. this one tornado is the second deadliest in Missouri history. The deadliest killed 244 people in May 1896. According to weather experts, this is the deadliest single tornado since the national weather center started keeping track in 1931.
And experts are expecting more tornadoes to hit the same area again today.