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This is a photo of the tornado on May 22, 2019 near the small town of Eugene (file photo courtesy of Jaclyn Morrow)

Tornado rips through Jefferson City

A historic tornado has touched down and caused significant damage in Jefferson City.

Damage at Riley Automotive in Jefferson City (photo taken May 23, 2019)

The National Weather Service reported a tornado warning in Eldon at about 11 p.m. Wednesday, then a “violent tornado” touchdown southwest of Jefferson City a little before midnight Thursday. Emergency management officials report extensive damage starting in Jefferson City near Christy Drive and Highway 179 and tracking northeast. The preliminary damage survey rates part of the path as an EF-3.

Authorities are reporting dozens of injuries, and no confirmed fatalities in Jefferson City, as of 11 a.m. Thursday.

Thousands of Ameren Missouri customers were still without power as of late Thursday morning. A spokesman for the utility says it could take until Saturday for some in Jefferson City to get their power back. Hundreds of power poles were damaged. Three Rivers Electric Cooperative says this may be the worst damage its system has ever seen.

The damage continues on a path along Ellis Blvd, especially in the 500 block. Missouri Task Force 1 was searching for victims at Hawthorne Apartments, but did not find any. Riley Chevrolet and the Sonic on Ellis Blvd. are among the other buildings badly damaged.

Simonsen Ninth Grade Center has extensive damage, according to JCPS Superintendent Larry Linthacum. The roof was peeled off the press box at Atkins Stadium. The MSHSAA large-school track meet has been moved from there. Class 3 athletes will compete at Mizzou, Class 4 at Washington High School, and Class 5 at Columbia Battle High School. Lincoln University has extensive damage too, and the president’s mansion has apparently been destroyed.

JCPD Lt. David Williams says police will patrol the affected area through Thursday night and early Friday, watching for looters and sightseers.

Damage after tornado hits late May 22 at the Sonic along Ellis Blvd.

Listener Jaclyn Morrow took video of the tornado near Eugene late Wednesday which you can see here.

Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Jefferson City is one available storm shelter. There are shelters at Eldon’s elementary school and community center too. Lt. Williams says about 100 people were in shelters the last time he checked.

You can sign up to volunteer later through the United Way 211 program at 573-443-4523 or online here, donate to the Red Cross here, or volunteer at 573-635-1132. You can download the Red Cross Safe at Home app to let people know you’re ok.

Gov. Mike Parson joined Wake Up Columbia on Thursday morning for an update:

(This story will be updated frequently.)

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