WICHITA, KAN. — RESCUERS continued to search for victims feared trapped in the rubble of a furious storm that ripped across the heartland of America and spawned tornadoes that killed at least 26 people Friday. More tornadoes struck Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama Saturday, while winds caused damage in Alabama and nearly four inches of rain flooded streets in South Carolina. Tornado watches were posted in northern Louisiana, central and southern Arkansas, east-central Alabama, and central and eastern Georgia.
Early Friday evening, twisters roared through small towns in south-central Kansas and northern Oklahoma, destroying homes and businesses, knocking out telephone and electrical service, and causing death and injury.
Joy Moser, a spokeswoman with the Kansas Adjutant General's Office, said 25 people were confirmed dead in that state, and police said one person died in Oklahoma. More than 100 people were hurt. It was uncertain how many were missing.
The storm system responsible for the destruction spun out at least 71 tornadoes, which also struck in Nebraska, Texas, Iowa, and Missouri.
"The total number of storms and extent of damage from the storms will not be known for several weeks," National Weather Service forecaster Harry Gordon said. "The effects of the storms will last years."
National Guard troops were deployed in Kansas, and the governor declared a state of emergency. The town hit hardest was Andover, a community of 4,500 people outside Wichita. Nineteen were killed, at least 114 were injured, and 1,500 were left homeless. Damage has been estimated at $50 million, officials said.