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15 Years Ago Today: May 4th Tornadoes - KOAM TV 7

15 Years Ago Today: May 4th Tornadoes

Updated:
May 4th, 2003 near Columbus, KS May 4th, 2003 near Columbus, KS

May 4th - 10th, 2003, the Midwest was rocked by tornadoes. According to a National Weather Service assessment report, during that time, there was a total of 393 tornadoes resulting in 39 deaths.

Residents from eastern Kansas, northwest, southwest and northern Missouri, parts of Arkansas, Nebraska, Tennessee, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Mississippi were all affected.

On May 4th, 2003, tornadoes tore a path through the Four States, claiming lives and damaging homes and businesses. But not to the resolve of Four State residents.

NWS May 4th Event Summary (Correlates with Tornado Path Map): A major tornado outbreak hit the area Sunday afternoon and evening of May 4th, 2003. Supercell thunderstorms produced at least 15 tornadoes that resulted in extensive damage and 25 fatalities. Several of the tornadoes tracked long distances ranging from 15 to 80 miles. More than 3000 homes and businesses were damaged by the tornadoes.

(May 4th) NOAA officials say an F3 touched down in Newton County, MO and traveled into Lawrence County. The tornado caused damage and injuries near Monett, Verona, Aurora, Marionville, Pierce City and Battlefield. Pierce City was hit the hardest around 6:00 p.m. Its historic downtown area was hit, with 100 plus year old buildings destroyed. More than 200 homes, businesses and outbuildings were destroyed and around 320 were damaged. Five Pierce City residents died and there were more than 30 other injuries. Estimated property damage costs in Pierce city were around $27.5 million.

(May 4th) According to the NWS, an F3 tornado touched down in Melrose, KS (Cherokee County) around 4:45 p.m. It crossed into Missouri near the community of Smithfield and then hit Carl Junction around 5:25 p.m.. It's responsible for three deaths in Kansas and two deaths in Carl Junction. The tornado caused about $2.7 million in property damage in Kansas and around $21.2 million in property damage in Missouri. Officials told KOAM that more than 200 homes were damaged or destroyed in Carl Junction. The May 4th tornadoes forced the Salvation Army to stage its largest disaster relief effort in Missouri since the floods of 1993. More than 700 volunteers helped out the first couple of days after the storm, but the workforce started shrinking after that.

(May 4th) An F4 tornado touched down in Crawford County, KS around 3:35 p.m. and traveled 27 miles through McCune, Ringo, Girard, Franklin and Mulberry KS. It then moved on the ground into Barton County, MO. The tornado claimed three lives in Crawford County. Estimated property damage costs were around $7.2 million on the Kansas side. Franklin, KS was one of the hardest hit that day in our area. The tornado leveled much of the town and rebuilding was slow.

Lives lost in Our Four State Area

Missouri:

88-year-old Rex Smith of Liberal

71-year-old Kenneth Lanear and 62-year-old Ethel Lanear of Carl Junction

51-year-old Dale Taunton of Pierce City

46-year-old Wanda Sue Handly of Monett

20-week-old Jacob Rueda of Monett

52-year-old Janet Eskridge of Lawrence County

39-year-old Vicki Lynn Lawrence of Marionville

40-year-old Rob Hewitt of Cedar County

34-year-old Mark Wilcox of Cedar County

86-year-old John Cassel of Cedar County

Kansas:

50-year-old Julie Green of Cherokee County (southeast of Columbus)

73-year-old Phyllis Ross & 80-year-old Charles Ross Jr. of Cherokee County (east of Crestline)

48-year-old Sharon Lasbrook of Crawford County

68-year-old George Bolte of Crawford County

87-year-old Josephine Maghe (Mack) of Crawford County

The area was declared a natural disaster by President Bush. Residents in Kansas and Missouri affected by the storms received help from FEMA. Assistance programs included grants for short-term rental needs, minimal home repairs and loans to repair serious disaster-related needs.

By May 14th, 2003, FEMA said it had already approved close to $2 million in disaster aid for storm victims in Southwest Missouri. The agency also said in just one week, it received more than 900 applications from people in Southwest Missouri.

By May 15th, More than $138,000 in disaster housing assistance had been distributed in several Kansas counties to help tornado victims.

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