A tornado raced through the Ray County city of Orrick on Saturday night, leaving behind widespread damage to homes and businesses.
The Missouri Highway Patrol and Ray County Sheriff’s Department were on the scene, surveying damage and ensuring residents were safe amid uprooted trees, downed power lines and building debris scattered across the town.
Orrick Fire Chief Mike Arnold reported no injuries or fatalities after the storm.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” he said.
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The Ray County tornado damage was the most serious reported from a line of storms that rolled across the Kansas City area during the evening hours Saturday.
By early Sunday, the Orrick High School website had posted a “huge thank you to everyone who has sent us offers of help and prayers.” The note signed by the Orrick administration said the district was still assessing damage and had canceled classes in Orrick for Monday and Tuesday because it didn’t want “anyone in the building until it’s deemed safe to enter.”
The high school graduation, however, will go on.
“The graduation ceremony scheduled for May 18th at 2:00 will still take place, but at the Excelsior Springs High School gym,” the note said. Excelsior Springs is located about 15 miles north of Orrick.
Residents of Orrick, population 800, said tornado sirens sounded early, allowing them plenty of time to take shelter.
Becca Foote rode out the storm in her Orrick home adjacent a grain storage complex.
One of the silos and a nearby storage building collapsed in the storm.
Tree branches fell on Foote’s home and flattened one of her cars.
Foote said they could see the storm coming from a long way and realized it was headed straight for them.
“It started getting larger and larger,” she said.
So she drove quickly to a nearby mobile home to retrieve her mother and son, and all returned to Foote’s home.
While in the home’s main room, Foote said she felt the pressure change in her ears and scurried everyone downstairs.
Foote and her family heard lots of rattling and the spewing sound of leaking propane as the tornado passed. Afterward, Foote stepped outside to survey the damage.
With seemingly every lot in town littered with debris, Foote and her neighbors first set about making sure their family and friends were safe.
Crews worked to clear streets, firefighters directed residents around fallen power lines, and the sound of chainsaws could be heard everywhere.
Jerry McNary said a school near his home on the west side of town had broken windows and a torn-up roof.
McNary’s home wasn’t damaged. He did lose a boat, and his yard and chicken coop were mangled.
But the coop’s residents all survived.
“Fifteen chickens made it, and two puppies made it,” McNary said.
As residents walked the streets checking on neighbors, Gloria Newman surveyed the damage of one hard-hit street.
“It’s a mess,” she said.
Still, as quickly as the storm moved in and out, the town’s residents were ready to move on, too.
As Bobbie Hill put it: “We’ll just get it cleaned up. We don’t plan to go anywhere. We’ve been here 26 years.”
Jenni Laflin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, said weather service survey crews were out Sunday assessing damage in Orrick, Marshall and elsewhere along the storm’s path.