He Was Doing Laundry. Then He Dove Behind the Washers

'Violent tornado' touches down in Jefferson City, Mo.
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 23, 2019 6:59 AM CDT
'Destructive' Tornado Traps Residents in Homes
This still image taken from video shows a tornado on Wednesday in Carl Junction, Mo.   (Shayla Brooks via AP)

A "violent tornado" touched down in Missouri's capital Wednesday, causing heavy damage, per the National Weather Service. The service reported a "confirmed large and destructive tornado" was observed over Jefferson City at 11:43pm Wednesday, moving northeast at 40mph, per the AP. Jefferson City Police Lt. David Williams said early Thursday authorities had received multiple calls of people being trapped in homes, though there were no immediate reports of fatalities. The tornado hit during a week that has seen several days of tornadoes and torrential rains in parts of the southern Plains and Midwest. "It's a chaotic situation right now," Williams said. Missouri Public Safety tweeted there was a possibility of more tornadoes and flash flooding.

Austin Thomson, 25, was in the laundry room of his apartment complex doing wash and noticed the wind picking up. He saw sheets of rain and a flagpole bend, then slam to the ground. Windows broke, and he dove behind the washers and dryers. Storms and torrential rains have ravaged the Midwest, from Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. Deaths include a 74-year-old woman found early Wednesday in Iowa; officials there say she was killed by a possible tornado that damaged a farmstead in Adair County. Missouri authorities said heavy rain was a contributing factor in the deaths of two people in a traffic accident Tuesday near Springfield. A fourth weather-related death may have occurred in Oklahoma, where cops say a woman apparently drowned after driving around a barricade Tuesday near Perkins. (More tornado stories.)

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