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Searches continue in Jefferson City, volunteers sought for ensuing cleanup

Searches continue in Jefferson City, volunteers sought for ensuing cleanup

Meanwhile, floodwaters still threaten

May 23rd, 2019 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

Simsonsen Ninth Grade Center sustained damage from the tornado that struck Jefferson City late Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

Photo by Phillip Sitter /News Tribune.

Gallery: Initial May 22, 2019 Tornado Photo Gallery

more photos

Twelve hours after a tornado hit Jefferson City, emergency personnel say they are starting to make progress in efforts to get the city back on its feet.

Lt. David Williams, Jefferson City Police Department spokesman, says search for any more injuries continues. The number of injured is estimated to be 24-25 for Cole County.

As workers continue efforts to clear streets of debris, officials are working with United Way of Central Missouri to coordinate potential volunteers for cleanup efforts in the ensuing days. Volunteers can call the United Way at 2-1-1.

As crews respond to damages from the storm, they are also continuing to monitor the Missouri River. By around 1 p.m., some levees should reach their max with the current crest expected to reach 31.8 feet.

Shelters for those displaced are being used; close to 100 are staying in the three shelters.

Due to the severe weather damage and flooding of parking lots, non-essential state employees in the Jefferson City area who were instructed to remain home Thursday should also not report to work Friday. Jefferson City state employees should expect to return to work Tuesday unless otherwise instructed.

Ameren Missouri President Michael Moehn said they've stabilized natural gas situations in Jefferson City with a mobile command center. Reports of leaks have been reported throughout the area.

The utility is working to restore electrical service to more than 2,300 Eldon customers and 2,000 Jefferson City customers.

Around 200 poles were damaged between Eldon and Jefferson City.

"We should have full service back to Eldon late tonight and Jefferson City probably by Saturday, " Moehn said. "On a scale of 1-10, it's probably around a 10 for damage."

"This may be the worst devastation we have ever had on our system," said Three Rivers Electric Cooperative's Assistant Manager Thayne Barton. "What is presumed to have been a tornado struck the western party of the co-op's system about 10:19 p.m. Power poles snapped in two, and lines went down everywhere from Eldon all the way to Jefferson City.

At one time, there were more than 6,300 members out of power, the majority of which were in Cole and Miller counties.

"Members should be prepared to be without power for several days during the restoration process," Barton said.

"Safety is of utmost importance at this time. You can't see, hear or smell electricity. We ask our members and the general public to stay at least 10 feet away from all downed power lines. If you see a downed power line, please call our office at 573-644-9000 or call 911.

"Awesome to see the cooperation among agencies and the community, " Williams said.

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe said calls for assistance have been coming from all over the country.

"It's heartwarming to see the interaction," Kehoe said.