SEDALIA, Mo. -- A quarter to half-mile wide tornado struck Sedalia early this afternoon, crumpling a trailer park, damaging homes and businesses and injuring 15 to 25 people.
Authorities said initial sweeps through the damaged area indicate that everyone is accounted for.
The tornado struck the southwest corner of Sedalia along U.S. Highway 65 near the city limits and traveled northeast, said Larry Ward, Sedalia's acting police chief.
"At this time we have approximately 15 to 25 walking wounded who went over to the hospital for treatment," he said. "We have no reports of any fatalities at all, mostly structural damage."
Ward said the tornado missed the new high school on the south side of the city but hit the school district's bus barn, causing damage. He said residents had plenty of warning.
"We had probably a half hour, 45 minutes warning," he said. "I believe that was very relevant in keeping our citizens a lot safer."
Residents were more alert, he said, because of the deadly Joplin tornado on Sunday.
"It was on their minds, it's been on everybody's minds throughout the state, throughout our country," he said. "Folks are aware of it, and they know if the alarms are sounded, they need to take cover."
Ward said the tornado was on the ground for one-half to three-quarters of a mile.
"We have some areas where the homes were completely destroyed, and we are going to set up a curfew from 9 o'clock this evening until 6 a.m. for those homes that are inhabitable," he said.
Ward said all of the city's schools were locked down, and students were escorted to the buildings' basements.
He said numerous businesses were destroyed or damaged along U.S. 65.
"And there is one trailer park that appears to be completely demolished," he said.
The trailer park that had about 40 units is called Elm Hills.
The Brentwood neighborhood also sustained major damage, Ward said.
Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond said the trailer park had overturned trailers and some people had to be extricated.
He said a smaller trailer park called Hillcrest had about 20 units damaged.
Bond said the county was hit by a tornado in 2006 and by a smaller tornado about two years ago.
"The destruction that occurred in Joplin -- and being that we are in tornado alley and Sedalia has historically been hit by tornadoes in the past -- I think people heeded the warning and that helped tremendously," he said.
By late afternoon, rain had moved back into the area and more strong storms were expected with straight-line winds, a Highway Patrolman was telling people.
In the Brentwood neighborhood, Kimber Nedderman, 20, was carrying boxes of her belongings out of her heavily damaged house. She said she was home with her sister when they heard the sirens.
"I shut all the lights off, got our two large dogs and two cats into the basement," she said.
They went into the basement laundry room.
"I heard things cracking above me," she said. "It was pushing the laundry room door open, and I could feel air coming up from under the door and sucking around my legs.
"We knew it was over because we could hear rain coming into our house," she said.
When they went outside, their roof was lying in a crumpled heap in their driveway.
Her father, Brad Nedderman, was talking to neighbors and shaking his head at his ruined house.
"I guess we'll just pick up the pieces and move on," he said.
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