Tornado tosses mobile home in Mo., killing two; another hits mall in Fla.
PARIS, Mo. - Tornadoes that struck the Plains and Southeast yesterday tossed a mobile home in Missouri, killing both people inside, and hit a Florida mall, sending shoppers and children at a day-care center running for cover.
About 30 people were injured Wednesday night when high winds blew through an Oktoberfest festival in Tulsa, Okla., collapsing two tents on the crowd.
In rural northeastern Missouri, the state Highway Patrol said Kent Ensor and Kristy Secrease had sought refuge in Secrease's mobile home in Monroe County as a tornado approached.
Their bodies were found about 400 feet from where the home had been. The mobile home's frame was found three-quarters of a mile away, with debris as far as 2 miles away. The National Weather Service classified the storm as an F2 tornado that traveled about a mile and had wind speeds up to 135 miles per hour.
Ensor, 44, was a hog farmer from a well-known family, and Secrease, 25, managed Ensor's 11,000-hog operation. They had been dating for about a year, neighbors said.
"Everybody knows everybody here," said Jim Lovelady. "This hurts."
Joey Crigler's mobile home down the road from the Ensor farm was spared damage. Despite living in a wide-open area prone to severe weather, Crigler said, he and Ensor didn't worry about their safety.
"It's just one of those things you kind of laughed about and then go on," he said.
Several twisters also hit southwestern Missouri, where a home was destroyed but no injuries were reported.
Another tornado late yesterday morning in Pensacola, Fla., damaged the city's major shopping mall as violent thunderstorms swept across the western Panhandle.
Eddie English Jr., a department store stock manager, said he heard the wind outside the store suddenly speed up and grow louder. Then mall security guards entered the store and ordered 200 to 300 employees and shoppers into the basement.
In downtown Pensacola, the electricity was out and the streets were filled with several inches of water from rain that began around dawn.
Glenn Austin, Escambia County sheriff's spokesman, said the roof of Greater Little Rock Baptist Church was damaged, as was its day-care center. But the children had been moved to safety before the tornado struck, he said.
"They heard the warnings, grabbed the kids, and followed the drill," he said.
Jack Cullen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, confirmed that a tornado touched down shortly before noon.
In Tulsa, more than 7,000 people were at the Oktoberfest festival when the tents collapsed at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Five of those hurt remained hospitalized yesterday, and three were in serious condition with head injuries and lacerations, said Tina Wells, spokeswoman for the Emergency Medical Services Authority.
The storm brought wind gusts ranging from 65 miles per hour to nearly 90 miles per hour, said Steve Piltz, a Weather Service meteorologist.