The full extent and cost of the damage was not immediately clear. “I didn’t realize how emotional it would be to see the devastation in this town and everything torn up,” resident Eric Powell told KMOV television as he surveyed the aftermath.
“It’s just devastating to see the damage,” he said.
One bit of good news came from the state’s Office of Administration which announced Thursday afternoon that the Missouri State Capitol building was not damaged.
Rescue workers checked door-to-door for survivors. Some 20 people were treated at hospitals overnight, officials said.
Despite the widespread destruction, there were no reports of deaths or additional injuries in Jefferson City.
The widespread damage was expected to displace some residents for weeks. The University of Missouri offered housing on its campus.
“As we talk with local and state officials to understand the full scope of the disaster and recovery efforts, we will deploy additional help,” Gary Ward, the university’s operations chief, said in a statement.
More than two dozen tornadoes were reported overnight in Missouri and neighbouring Oklahoma. Thousands were left without electricity.
Ameren Missouri, an energy provider, said more than 400 crews were working to restore power in Jefferson City, but that outages could last through the weekend.
The weather service predicted strong and severe storms would continue through the weekend in Missouri and adjacent Illinois, causing “continued river flooding throughout the Missouri and Mississippi River basi
Several homes were reported destroyed in the small town of Crescent along the Cimarron River, while people living close to a dam on Keystone Lake in the city of Tulsa were encouraged to evacuate or be prepared to do so because the dam could breach.
KJRH television reported loose barges hit a dam on the Arkansas River in Muskogee, Oklahoma. There were no immediate reports of dam failure.
Storms and torrential rains have ravaged the Midwest, from Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.