Deadly storms sweep some parts of Midwest

May 8, 2009 8:49:50 PM PDT
Severe storms ransacked southern Illinois Friday, and there is so much damage in Carbondale that Friday's graduation ceremonies at Southern Illinois University (SIU) were canceled.Storms also struck Missouri, Kansas and Kentucky.

The storm is being blamed for at least four deaths, and dozens of others have been injured.

Winds and rain raced through much of the Midwest Friday afternoon. Emergency crews were still assessing the damage and cleaning up late Friday night.

Hundreds in Carbondale were still without power after strong winds reaching up to 120 miles per hour and heavy rain moved through.

Roofs were ripped off of homes, trees were split in half and debris was scattered for miles.

At SIU, there was damage to some of the buildings and dormitories. Commencement activities were about to get under way, but then officials canceled the ceremony just moments after the storm hit.

"I could see people scrambling to get inside," Rod Siervers told ABC7 Chicago over the telephone. "We won't let that dampen our spirits, but the campus is sure a mess. A lot of trees are down, and we basically decided to things shut down for the rest of the day so we could clean things up."

Clean up was also under way in Alton, Ill. Friday night. The violent weather caused the partial collapse of two commercial buildings in the town's historic district.

Storms also swept across southern Missouri. They're being blamed for three deaths there. In Dallas County, a man suffered a fatal heart attack after winds lifted him and his wife from their home and threw them into a building.

In Kansas, a 54-year-old woman was killed when her mobile home was blown into a tree by the strong winds.

"The wind got up?like something terrible was going to happen. It was like a roaring sound, and it made an awful sound and went bump just like that," Katrine Millar, the victim's neighbor, said.

The National Weather Service is trying to confirm if a tornado is to blame for the damage in Carbondale. Students at SIU will be notified by the text messaging system and the university's Web site about graduation activities for Saturday.

A university spokesperson said it would all depend on whether or not power is restored on campus.


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