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Storms Sweep Across Midwest, Plains

April 9, 1999

Powerful storms swept across the Midwest and Plains, destroying homes and other buildings in several states before moving east early today.

Richard Urkoski was at work when a tornado blew the roof off his home in North Bend, Neb., and caved in the front walls. He later walked around the demolished house, picking up photographs off the floor.

``I guess it didn’t hit me until I came home and saw it,″ he said.

A tornado struck a five-block area in the eastern Nebraska town Thursday, damaging 14 homes and leveling one that was under construction. No injuries were reported.

Helga Garay’s car was smashed by tree limbs outside her residence in Morse Bluff, south of North Bend.

``Now it’s a convertible,″ she said.

In Ashland, Ill., one person was killed late Thursday after high winds ripped across a mobile home park. The cause of death wasn’t immediately released by authorities.

``We just walked outside and just seen trailers tipping everywhere,″ said Lori Krenshaw, a resident of the South Trailer Park in Ashland. ``It was a mess.″

Among the hardest hit states was Iowa, where at least nine suspected tornadoes destroyed homes, downed barns and uprooted trees. No injuries were reported.

Deb Frisbie, who lives on a farm southeast of Adair, surveyed the damage to her home. Trees littered her yard, and a hay baler and other farm equipment were overturned.

Ms. Frisbie said she saw ``just black coming at us.″

``We barely made it to the basement,″ she said. ``We didn’t really hear anything. All I was worried about was getting everybody to the basement.″

Ms. Frisbie’s neighbor, Cindy Denny, lost her house to the storm.

In South Carolina, at least one Anderson County resident was considering moving after seeing her neighbor’s mobile home flattened by severe weather.

``I’ve lived here for two years and I’m only going to stay long enough to find an apartment or house,″ said Carolyn Perkins of the Dalrymple Mobile Home Park in West Pelzer.

Perkins’ neighbor, Jean Westenhaver, was treated and released from Anderson Area Medical Center with broken ribs and neck and back injuries.

On the West Coast, rain and mountain snow in the higher elevations stretched from Washington state into central California. Heavy snow closed roads in the Sierra Nevada.

``You know what hurt was those two weeks when we had really nice weather. I was wearing shorts,″ said Judy Miller, service manager at the Donner Park Unocal in Truckee, Calif. ``It’s a little disconcerting but we go through this every year.″

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