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The deadliest single tornado since 1953 barreled down on Joplin, Missouri on Sunday, dividing the city in half. The death toll continues to rise and currently 117 people are believed to have lost their life in the massive twister. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s spokesman, Sam Murphey, said Tuesday morning that the death toll in Joplin had risen to 117.
According to the National Weather Service, the single deadliest tornado prior to this week was in Flint Michigan in 1953. That tornado killed 116 people. The National Weather Service began tracking tornadoes in 1950. From their research, they believe that there were deadlier tornadoes before 1950. The agency says the single deadliest day that it is aware of was March 18, 1925, when tornadoes killed 747 people.
This spring has been an active tornado season. A series of twisters ripped through the southern states in late April killing 314 people. Alabama was the hardest hit of the six states that suffered destruction from the pack of twisters.
Sunday’s massive twister went right through the Missouri town of about 50,000 people. St. John’s Regional Medical Center was hit and five patients were confirmed dead, along with one hospital visitor. The tornado destroyed possibly “thousands” of homes, according to Fire Chief Mitch Randles. It leveled hundreds of businesses, including massive ones such as Home Depot and Walmart.
President Barack Obama said he would travel to Missouri next Sunday to meet with people whose lives have been turned upside down by the twister. He vowed to make all federal resources available for efforts to recover and rebuild. “The American people are by your side,” Obama said from London. “We’re going to stay there until every home is repaired, until every neighborhood is rebuilt, until every business is back on its feet.”
Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday that Obama has declared a disaster in the area, which means residents are eligible for his agency’s assistance. “We’re here for the long haul, not just for the response,” Fugate said.
This week Missouri continues to have the threat of severe weather with the increasing possibility that the same area could be struck by tornadoes again. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said a repeat could be setting up, with a possible large tornado outbreak in the Midwest on Tuesday and bad weather potentially reaching the East Coast by Friday.”This is a very serious situation brewing,” center director Russell Schneider said.