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Storms could bring more floods, tornadoes to Southern Plains

Associated Press
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Tulsa World
Michelle Underwood searches through the wreckage of a feed store where she stored most of her belongings in Peggs, Okla., Tuesday, May 21, 2019. A tornado touched down near Tulsa International Airport amid storms in the Southern Plains that brought a deluge of rain and powerful winds, closing an interstate and flipping campers at a raceway.
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Tulsa World
David Dick wades out of the water after checking on his flooded home in Sperry, Okla., Tuesday, May 21, 2019. A tornado touched down near Tulsa International Airport amid storms in the Southern Plains that brought a deluge of rain and powerful winds, closing an interstate and flipping campers at a raceway.
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AP
Vehicles drive through floodwater on US Highway 66 following heavy rains Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in El Reno, Okla.
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Water flows around an abandoned vehicle near US Highway 66 following heavy rains Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in El Reno, Okla.
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The underpass on north Grand is closed due to high water in Enid, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2019.
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This image made from video provided by KWTV-KOTV shows two funnel clouds formed in Crescent, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2019.

OKLAHOMA CITY — A tornado touched down Tuesday near Tulsa International Airport, injuring at least one person and damaging about a dozen homes, amid storms in the Southern Plains that brought a deluge of rain and powerful wind, closing an interstate and flipping campers at a raceway.

Storms could bring more tornadoes and flash flooding to parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma on Tuesday.

Storms Monday evening flipped campers at Lucas Oil Speedway in Hickory County, Mo., injuring seven people, four of whom were taken to hospitals. The speedway’s grandstand also was destroyed, forcing cancelation of racing this weekend that was expected to draw about 3,000 campers. Details about injuries were not immediately available.

The tornado Tuesday morning in Tulsa didn’t damage the airport, but passengers were moved into shelters for about 30 minutes, according to spokesman Andrew Pierini said. Many flights were canceled or delayed because of the storms.

The twister touched down at about 6:30 a.m. about 4 miles from the airport.

“We had to rescue a man, he was pinned under a tree this morning,” said Tulsa Area Emergency Management spokeswoman Kim MacLeod. The man’s condition was not immediately known.

“We’ve had some other reports of damage to homes and trees down,” and damage assessments would continue throughout the day, MacLeod said.

Flooding was also an issue. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation shut down Interstate 40 in El Reno, about 25 miles west of Oklahoma City, because of high water. The National Weather Service says up to 5 inches of rain had fallen since Monday.

In El Reno and Stillwater, home to Oklahoma State University about 55 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, emergency responders were rescuing people from their homes because of high water.

In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency, citing worsening flood concerns and soil inundation, as well as forecasts calling severe storms and possible tornadoes into Wednesday morning. Parson cited numerous instances of flash flooding.

“The very heavy rainfall yesterday and today, combined with saturated soil and very high water levels on many rivers and streams have created dangerous conditions around the state,” Parson, a Republican, said in a statement.

With a potentially dangerous storm bearing down on St. Louis, baseball’s Cardinals were taking no chances, calling off a game Tuesday night against the cross-state rival Kansas City Royals. Forecasters were warning of potentially strong storms expected to arrive at downtown St. Louis shortly after the game was scheduled to start.

The postponement means only one of St. Louis’ two major sports teams will play Tuesday night. It’s a big one. The Blues can earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals if they beat the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the NHL Western Conference Finals. The Blues haven’t made the Stanley Cup Finals since 1970.

The Blues say they’re working with police and emergency crews to monitor the storm. They say fans should stay in their seats if a storm occurs during the game.

Heavy snow melt from the north and significant spring rains have led to waves of flooding in Missouri, and President Donald Trump on Monday issued a major disaster declaration for 13 counties in the state damaged by March flooding.

The Missouri River is expected to reach major flood stage by the end of the week at Jefferson City, Hermann, St. Charles and elsewhere. The levee near Jefferson City’s airport holds back water up to 30 feet, Cole County Emergency Manager Bill Farr said, but the National Weather Service expects a crest of 32.3 feet Thursday. Sandbagging won’t help because the levee is too long, he said.

“We’re just keeping our fingers crossed,” Farr said.

The Missouri National Guard wasn’t taking any chances. Maj. John Quin said the Guard was relocating its four helicopters stationed at the airport to Whiteman Air Force Base. Meanwhile, the organizers of a Memorial Day weekend airshow planned for the airport canceled it due to the rising water. The show was expected to attract at least 10,000 people.

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