Clean-up process in Perry Co. still underway after deadly storms

Clean-up process in Perry Co. still underway after deadly storms
(Source: Roosevelt Mitchell/cNews)
(Source: Roosevelt Mitchell/cNews)
(Source: Roosevelt Mitchell/cNews)
(Source: Roosevelt Mitchell/cNews)
(Source: Crystal Britt, KFVS)
(Source: Crystal Britt, KFVS)
Gov. Greitens toured the damage in Perryville, Mo. on Wednesday. (Source: Gov. Eric Greitens/Facebook)
Gov. Greitens toured the damage in Perryville, Mo. on Wednesday. (Source: Gov. Eric Greitens/Facebook)

PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - The City of Perryville held a press conference on Thursday, March 2 regarding the batch of severe weather that left widespread damage behind and one person dead.

The MHP is still providing a supporting role as the American Red Cross continues in the clean-up process. About 15 officers are working at road blocks and patrolling the area in the evening and overnight.

Authorities are asking drivers to avoid slowing down along 55 near damaged areas. They also say not to stop and pull off on the side of the road to take photos or video.

Authorities say there have not been any issues, such as looting or rioting, but a possible scam may have popped up as a result of the severe weather and the damage caused by it.

Citizens Electric is asking the public to be aware of this scam. CEC received a report of a man posing as a CEC employee, assessing damaged homes. One person reported that they found a man on their property who claimed to be John Wilson with Citizens Electric. Shortly after he left, the person noticed some belongings were missing. CEC wants the public to know that anyone identifying themselves as a CEC employee should be able to provide official identification.

City officials said they are looking for volunteers from Perryville or outside the area. Those wanting to volunteer should call (573)-741-0021. You also need to register at the Perry Park Center. All volunteers should wear proper clothing to work in the field.

If you need help, you can call the homeowner hotline at 573-741-0022.

Red Cross is also taking donations at Perry Park Center.

The American Red Cross is still in the field working with Salvation Army and other local businesses, making sure they have food and other resources.

President reaches out to Perry Co. tornado victims

President Donald Trump's public liaison officer, Billy Kirkland, reached out Mayor Ken Baer to check on the needs of Perry County and Perryville residents after the tornado.

The Perryville Police Department posted a shout out to the president on its Facebook page.

Funeral arrangements for victim

Funeral arrangements for Travis M. Koenig were made. Koenig died when the tornado touched down on I-55 near Perryville, Mo. on Tuesday night.

Visitation will be held at Young & Sons Funeral Home on Friday, March 3 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, March 4 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with Rosary at 8:30 a.m.

The funeral mass will be held at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church at 10 a.m. with Rev. Milton Ryan CM officiating. He will be buried in St. Michael's Cemetery in Apple Creek, Mo.

Crews work to restore power

Hundreds were still without power in Perry County, Missouri on Wednesday evening, a big difference to the 2,000 that were out of power on Tuesday night.

According to a Citizens Electric Co-Op spokesperson, 102 people were working to restore power to the area.

Crews were out all day. The storm rooted up many of the power poles and downed many lines. We're told there were about 100 people whose sole job was restoring electricity in Perry County.

Shawn Seabaugh with Citizens Electric gave an update Wednesday on the crew's progress.

"Right now we have our crews working, they have been working since late last night and they'll be working all day and into tonight," Seabaugh said. "Then they will have to take a mandatory break for safety. Following that break, they will come back in early tomorrow morning before dawn and get back at it again so we can soon have power restored again to all of our members."

Crews from other electric companies in the area helped with restoration efforts.

Seabaugh also said Citizen's Electric planned to have everyone's power back up and running on Thursday.

MO governor tours damage

Governor Eric Greitens toured the damage in the neighborhood of Moore Drive, which is just north of Perryville on Wednesday, February 28.

He said his first impression was just the tremendous damage that was done.

" carried a 13-mile swatch of real destruction, 160 homes that were hit. We understand that 85 to 95 of those are uninhabitable," he said. "You know, the thing that's most impressive when you come out here and you talk to people who were affected, is their sense of tremendous faith and belief in their neighbors who've all come out, hundreds of neighbors who've come out to volunteer and are helping them to get their houses in order."

Gov. Greitens said the first and most important thing he wants the people of the area to know is that they care about them and they have their backs.

"For folks who are interested in volunteering, please be in touch with the folks here in Perry County," he said. "They have a great system for volunteers who are coming in to check in and to get engaged."

He said the different between the damage you could see from the air and the damage you could see from the ground was that from the air, you see tremendous destruction but from the ground, you see tremendous courage and tremendous hope.

"There are a lot of families that were hit here and they lost almost all of their personal belongings," the governor said. "But you see that their families come together, their neighbors come together and their friends come together to let them know that we're here behind them. I'm here to let them know as their governor that we're going to fight for them and we're going to be here with them through thick and thin"

Director of Public Safety in Missouri, Drew Juden, was also in Perryville to tour the damage.

He said the damage reminded him of several other tornadoes that he'd been through.

"These are always devastating," he said. "They're always very difficult for communities to deal with and it just brings back a lot of memories."

He said he wants the community of Perryville to stay strong and help each other out.

"You know, it's a very strong community, small community, very close neighbors and friends and they'll get through this," Juden said.

Tornado turns deadly

The tornado that touched down in Perry County on Tuesday night is blamed for one death and 10 injuries.

Officials identified the person who died as Travis M. Koenig, 24, of Perryville.

According to Mayor Ken Baer, 60 families have lost everything they own.

Assistant Fire Chief Ben Jones said the initial 911 call came in at 8:04 p.m.

Baer said the tornado had a 13-mile path starting in the northwest corner of Perryville, near U.S. 61 North.

Fire crews initially responded to reports of vehicles damaged and then were directed to homes along U.S. 61 where homes were damaged.

Jones said they responded to a home and rescued a family from their home. They were all hurt.

According to Jones, the first three homes they responded to were about two-thirds destroyed, but the next three homes were completely leveled with only the foundation remaining.

In some cases, people that lived in the homes that were hit came out to rescue crews to tell them that everyone in the home had been accounted for and to move on to the next house.

Perryville Fire Chief Jeremy Triller said his crews searched 180 residential homes. Triller said 60 percent of those homes have moderate to heavy damage.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the tornado picked up the vehicle Koenig was driving on Interstate 55 and he and his passenger were both thrown from the vehicle.

The driver, Koenig, was killed. His passenger was taken to the hospital.

Troopers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol are in Perryville monitoring the neighborhoods that were hit and ensuring that only those who are allowed in the area are let through. They will have to provide identification to be allowed in.

Rick Shanklin with the National Weather Service said that crews are out assessing the damage right now.

An early initial assessment indicates that the tornado was likely at least an EF2 or EF3, but the determination will not be made until crews have finished assessing the damage that spans from southeast Missouri to southern Indiana. There are four teams from the National Weather Service Assessing the damage.

Shanklin noted that the path was very similar to the Tri-State Tornado on March 18, 1925.

Perry County EMA Director Hank Voelker said, "There is a lot of debris to clean up, it's going to take an army to get it out of here."

According to Voelker, there are emergency shelters in place for those who don't have anywhere to go. There's also a shelter set up for pets.

Right now, people from around the area were working together to sift through what's left of homes to salvage what they can and try and find family keepsakes.

Homeowners affected by this tornado say they have received an unbelievable amount of support here as they try to salvage anything they have left.

Those who survived the tornado say they're grateful to everyone who's come to help.

"We had friends from Jackson, family from Ste. Gen. I've had a couple friends take off work today and just them being here, knowing my grandparents and helping," said Trina Schroeder. "Just helping out and offering whatever they can do for us! It does make me happy, there are good people in the world," said Brandy Morgan.

Several charities are accepting monetary donations to help the victims: The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities of St. Louis.

If you'd like to help the tornado victims, you can find more information here.

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