Missouri Tornado Death Toll Rises

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The series of turbulent storms left a path of death and destruction.

At least 116 people in the southwest Missouri town of Joplin are dead after a massive tornado blasted a 6 mile path across the city.

Officials warned Monday that the death toll could climb much higher as crews search through rubble.

"We're still doing search and rescue, literally going from house to house along that six mile strip, so we don't know yet," said Joplin County Emergency Management Director Keith Stammer.

In an amateur video of the storm, the funnel cloud can be seen as it touches down.

Much of the city's south side was leveled. Chuches, schools, businesses and homes are now reduced to ruins.

CBN News spoke with Joplin, Mo., resident Rhonda Justice-Neal about the tornado damage and how residents are coping.  Watch more below.

Much of the city's south side was leveled. Chuches, schools, businesses and homes are now reduced to ruins.

St. John's Medical Center took one of the hardest hits. The twister tore off its top two floors and blew out hundreds of windows, forcing the evacuation of 200 patients.

"It was total chaos," one witness recalled. "The nurses (were) yelling, 'Get away from the windows!' And the doors started rattling in the emergency room."

Meanwhile, hundreds were trapped inside the local Walmart as it collapsed.

In Reading, Kan., the Miracle Café was battered, but still standing.

"We'll get it cleaned up. We'll get it back," said owner Reta Jackson. "If the building's gone than I'll rebuild."

In Minneapolis, victims are telling harrowing stories of survival after a cyclone killed one and injured 30.

Krista Burkhalter's husband was trapped inside his house, and barely escaped as the roof and walls came crumbling down around him.

"He tried to get down to the basement, and it threw him back," Burkhalter said. "He broke a window out the back. The only part that's still standing... is about a 3 foot area left in the house. And he broke a window and climbed out the back window."

Gwen Onumah-Oniloro's house was also destroyed. She was at church when the storm hit -- a decision that she credits with saving her and her family's life.

"I'm extremely blessed I didn't have my grandkids in here," she said. "We sleep right back there, and it would have caved in on us."

President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the victims as Federal Emergency Management Agency works to respond to devastation across the region.

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John Waage

John Waage

CBN News Sr. Editor

John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.