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Local News: The aftermath: Cleanup and power restoration continue after severe weather sweeps through Sikeston (05/29/24)

An aerial view of a home on Garwood Street shows the roof blown off during severe weather conditions on Sunday, May 26, in Sikeston. (Sikeston DPS photo)

SIKESTON – Forty-eight hours after a severe weather system moved through Sikeston and other parts of the area on Sunday, May 26, city officials and residents continued to clear debris while electricians worked to restore power to many who were without power.

Around 7:20 a.m. Sunday, May 26, a line of storms blew into the area and Sikeston storm sirens were activated due to the possible tornado coming through the area and the city, according to Capt. Derick Wheetley of Sikeston DPS.

“The system entered the southwest part of Sikeston around the Shelby-McDougal street area and moved up a bit and went just west of the station into the 300-400 blocks of Gladys/Benton and Edmondson streets,” Wheetley said.

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe talks with Red Cross volunteers during his visit to Sikeston on Tuesday, May 28, at the Sikeston YMCA. (Rod Anderson/Standard Democrat)

From there it looked like the system went to Sikeston High School and across Main Street. Many locations near the high school sustained heavy damage, he said. The system also appeared to have maintained a straight line through Ables, and everything from Malone Avenue to Ables Road suffered major damage, including VFW Stadium, Wheetley said.

On Wednesday, May 29, a National Weather Service survey team in Paducah, Kentucky, will be in Sikston to examine the storm damage and determine if the system was a tornado and in what category it was a tornado.

At 7:30 a.m., DPS sent out a call for all off-duty personnel, he said.

A large truck was turned on its side after severe weather on Sunday, May 26 in Sikeston. (Rod Anderson/Standard Democrat)

“We set up the emergency operations center at DPS headquarters and commanded it from that location,” Wheetley said. “The first three hours we were busy checking houses with trees or major damage. We received several calls for gas leaks.”

There was an incident at Malco Cinema around 2pm on Sunday where smoke could be seen after one of the HVAC units collapsed on the roof and gas leaked. However, the problem was resolved with minimal damage.

Since Sunday, DPS has been working closely with City Public Works, BMU, gas utilities, etc. to respond to the numerous calls the dispatch center has received, Wheetley said. Morehouse and Scott County Rural Fire provided mutual aid to Sikeston.

Broken electrical poles are seen following severe weather on Sunday, May 26 in Sikeston. (Rod Anderson/Standard Democrat)

The Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities urged residents to stay away from downed power lines as several poles and lines over roads and homes were down. Crews have been working all day since Sunday to restore power to Sikeston residents.

By Monday afternoon, 60% of Sikeston’s power had been restored, while it was up slightly on Tuesday.

Sikeston Mayor Greg Turnbow said officials greatly appreciate the support the city has had so far.

The fence at VFW Stadium was taken down after severe weather on Sunday, May 26 in Sikeston. (Rod Anderson/Standard Democrat)

“Our biggest concern right now is getting power access to all neighborhoods,” Turnbow said Tuesday. “We ask the residents of Sikeston to please have a little patience. We are still about 30% without power and we are working hard with BMU.”

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, in his capacity as acting governor of Missouri, traveled to Sikeston on Tuesday to assess storm damage in the area and better learn what state resources may be needed to help affected communities respond and recover.

Kehoe was joined by Jim Remillard, director of the State Emergency Management Agency, and city, county and state officials.

The roof of the former Orscheln building rests on top of the Taco John’s building on East Malone Avenue following severe weather on Sunday, May 26, in Sikeston. (Rod Anderson/Standard Democrat)

As of 11 a.m. Monday, the citywide assessment included 139 major damage to structures; 131 minor damage to structures; and six moderate damage to structures, Wheetley said, adding that he expects those numbers to increase. Damages are based on FEMA guidelines, he said.

There were no bulldozed homes in Sikeston, many downed power lines, uprooted trees and roofs, vehicles and homes damaged, he said.

“Sikeston lost a lot of big trees during this go-around,” Wheetley said.

Remains of a barn sit in a tree after severe weather Sunday, May 26, in Sikeston. (Rod Anderson/Standard Democrat)

Under orders from Sikeston Mayor Greg Turnbow and Sikeston DPS Director James McMillen, a curfew was imposed Sunday for the Sikeston city limits until further notice. The curfew is from 8pm to 6am and is strictly enforced.

The curfew does not apply to those involved in repairs, demolition work, homeowners or property owners on private property. Anyone traveling to or from work for medical or other legitimate reasons is exempt from the curfew.

The curfew remained in effect until late Tuesday.

The curfew was put in place for safety reasons, Wheetley said. Some areas are still without power and have broken pipes. When night falls and there are no street lights, it is harder to notice fallen lines and debris, so the curfew helps keep people away from those dangerous areas, he explained. Plus, less traffic means crews can work faster.

Elsewhere in Scott County, damage was reported in Crowder, Diehlstadt and Vanduser. Dexter and Ripley County also reported damage.

Scott County Sheriff Wes Drury said a bridge on County Road 321 near Commerce was completely washed away. Z Highway opened late Monday and was closed due to poles across the road. County roads 538 and 539 were also hit quite hard, Drury said, adding that damage across the county included roofs, power lines and trees.

Meanwhile, volunteers from the community and surrounding areas have been providing assistance to those in need.

Wheetley said some local churches have organized efforts to feed utility workers, first responders and individuals affected by the storm. He also saw some teenagers trying to leave the road in a neighborhood.

Late Sunday, the American Red Cross set up a shelter at the YMCA of Southeast Missouri in Sikeston. The reception center is operational and has 40 beds and food provisions are being made.

Anyone displaced due to the storm can immediately contact 1-800-733-2767 (1-800-RED CROSS). The Red Cross will assess his or her situation individually.

The City of Sikeston opened the City Compost Site on Compress Road on Sunday so residents can take tree debris there.

Those with an emergency in Sikeston should call 911; those with non-emergency situations should call 573-471-4711.

Gina Curtis contributed to this story.

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