BOLLINGER COUNTY, Mo. (KTVI) – A Missouri tornado left a miles-long path of destruction that took the lives of five people in an instant around 3 a.m. Wednesday.
Tearful relatives later stood at the site of what was once a trailer in Bollinger County.
One man, who did not want to be identified, detailed finding his five loved ones, who had been swept away far from their home. He said one had even shared last words with him.
Two of the victims were 18 and 15 years old, he added.
Search and rescue efforts continue in the area, which is now being toured by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson. Even the nearby house is gone, with the roof tossed into the next lot, and the foundation unrecognizable.
“Seven neighbors, you don’t know where they are; four of them are missing,” said David McCormick, a storm survivor.
On Wednesday afternoon, law enforcement confirmed five deaths, five injuries and 87 damaged buildings, 12 of which were completely destroyed.
Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Clark Parrott described the difficulty in just moving down the roads.
“Once we get the roads cleared, we will continue to go door to door to make sure everyone in this county is accounted for,” Parrot said.
“There’s not even words to describe it; it all happened so fast,” said Shelby Davidson, a storm survivor.
Five massive trees were uprooted on Davidson’s street. A child’s bike was left surrounded by splintered tree debris in the yard, and many power lines were down.
Davidson pointed to the scene of debris, saying, “This is her car and our house. It’s just a complete wreck.”
Some citizens took cover in a church stripped of its shingles and siding as they traded survival stories.
“Then my fiancé was outside in the bathtub with the mattress on it,” one person said.
The damage was visible for miles along Highway 34, with groups of search crews checking for possible injured tornado victims at a time when another storm approached. Rain began to pour down again, with lightning strikes and loud lightning claps that left many wondering what was next.
A broken gas line led to a road closure and the sounds of pops, followed by a small contained fire, right in the thick of the action.
A St. Louis County Search and Rescue Strike Team made the 90-mile trip to help. St. Charles County emergency responders. Sikeston, Missouri, brought its mobile command from 40 miles away.
“We all come together when things like this happen,” Parrott said.
“First responders were amazing,” McCormick said. “The county, the state, Highway Patrol. Just amazing.”