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story.lead_photo.caption Bathroom area, dugouts and bleachers were part of damage done at the Eldon School softball fields after a tornado swept through Eldon late Wednesday night, May 22, 2019. Photo by Samantha Pogue / News Tribune.

ELDON — Emergency responders in Eldon are working to assess damages from Wednesday night's tornado.

The National Weather Service alerted of a damaging tornado in the area around 11 p.m.

The tornado hit Eldon before heading toward Brazito and Jefferson City from Missouri 17, officials said. No preliminary report has been given for Eldon.

Miller County Commissioner Tom Wright worked with emergency dispatch that night to locate residents who needed assistance. Throughout the area, roofs, trees and several objects were displaced.

Eldon Police Cpl. Mark Beauchamp said officers worked through Wednesday night and Thursday to clear debris and go door to door for search and rescue. They will continue to rotate shifts and work on several street closures. The Miller County Sheriff's Department continued to offer assistance in the area.

Eldon Police Chief Brian Kidwell said in a Facebook post around 1 p.m. Thursday that no deaths had been reported.

Some of the worst damage in the city was south of U.S. 87 along North Street, officials said. From Manor Street to Business 54 is closed.

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Missouri Department of Transportation and county road department crews cleared debris and moved power lines off the county roads. Miller County Sheriff Louie Gregoire said those affected should contact the Red Cross and Miller County Emergency Management.

Those not affected should remain away to allow responders to do their jobs, he added.

"The people who want to drive around and sightsee need to stay off the roads," Gregoire said.

Power outages

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Three Rivers Electric Cooperative reported 760 power outages in the area.

"Members should prepare to be without power for several days during the restoration process," assistant manager Thayne Barton said in a news release.

Some traffic lights were restored about 10 a.m. Ameren Missouri is also working to restore power.

Historic Randles Court cancels reopening

A planned re-opening of the Historic Randles Court has been canceled due to extensive damage to the building. Co-owner Jennifer Hart said the motel will be closed until further notice.

"We will repair," Hart said. " It's still standing; it can be repaired."

The business was recently renovated after a fire at the former Eldon Philly Diner destroyed rooms in August 2017.

An open house event scheduled for todayFriday to display the seven rooms will be rescheduled.

As the tornado approached, Hart's family took shelter as sirens and high winds shook the windows, inviting one rental tenant into their living quarters.

"We heard the noise, and so that was the end of it," Hart said.

After waiting for the all-clear, they discovered it was not the burst they expected. The tornado had touched down and broke windows and ripped the roof from the back of their building. The building's sign was also destroyed.

Hart remained grateful for the family and friends who worked through the night to move the historic furniture.

"The stuff that I put in these rooms you can't replace," Hart said.

Community members stopped by early Thursday to offer assistance in cleaning the property.

Community members clean up, take cover in shelters

Shelters opened Wednesday night at the Early Learning Center Tornado Room, 407 E. 15th St, and Eldon Community Center, 309 E. Second St.

Free clinic services are available at the Early Learning Center through the Central Ozark Medical Center.

Red Cross volunteer Kay Webery said those who were able were quick to assist. Brew Brothers Coffee, Osage Beach Police and FEMA coordinated meals, ice, cots and pillows.

"Some have gone or family members have picked them up," she added.

She said the Eldon Community Center was housing a slightly higher number of residents who suffered severe damage to their homes.

"Usually, with my experience with Red Cross, immediate needs are met with the local hotels and motels," Webery said.

"If anyone would like to donate items, they can come by and ask what we need. We will not turn them down," she said.

Webery said both shelters will remain open as long as there is a need, and more Red Cross representatives and FEMA will work to find places for displaced people.

At one time 60 residents went to shelters, Fire Chief Randy Vernon said. Later, more than 100 were confirmed to have used the shelters.

Business owner Shannon Loveall cleared debris at Rock Island Recycling. He said he felt blessed with the limited damage they've seen and will work with community members to clean up the city.

Eldon R-1 Superintendent Matt Davis met crews early Thursday at the Eldon softball fields, which received damage to its concession areas, dugout and bleachers.

"Even though the schools are closed, thankfully the school buildings were not damaged," he said.

Local residents confirmed extensive damage to homes and apartments on the south side of town. One area worst hit was at and surrounding the Eldon Estates apartment complex.

Tammy Clines and her boyfriend Derrick Vuncannon are staying at the tornado shelter, awaiting word when they can go back and assess the damage. However, the Eldon Fire Department told them Thursday morning it may be a few days before that can happen, as the building suffered extensive damage and the road is closed while they are trying to restore power and clear debris.

Clines said she called Vuncannon over to her apartment in the same complex and waited about an hour in their bathroom until they knew the tornado had passed. Vuncannon said he had a lot of broken glass and damage to his apartment, which suffered the brunt of the destruction from the tornado.

Clines has been through five tornadoes in her life while living in Missouri.

"They are just devastating," she said. "I'm worried about our medications and also about my cats, who I had to leave behind."

Vuncannon experienced his first tornado Wednesday night after moving to the area 11 years ago from California. He said experienced a 7.9 magnitude earthquake there and seeing this tornado was just as upsetting.

"It was really scary," he said. "I'm just glad we are OK."

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