Update on McDonald County straight line winds that sent 3 to the hospital and damaged campgrounds
In McDonald County, crews are working to clear debris after what officials call a sudden wind microburst hit a quarter of a mile stretch of Elk River near Noel, MO.
This storm, which happened around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, left some people injured and campgrounds damaged.
“It was right in your face,” said Trey Kuykendall, witness. “The rain was pelting. It felt like needles.”
Kuykendall was in the water, almost back from his 8 mile float, with Shady Beach Campground in sight, when an unexpected burst of severe weather hit.
“People’s canoes and everything were being pushed backwards and rolling, trailers were pushed over, canoes were rolling down the side from where people parked them,” Kuykendall said. “It was windy.”
Witnesses say one person that was injured tried seeking shelter near a vehicle when a large tree fell on top of her.
“They had to cut the tree all into pieces just so they could free her up,” Kuykendall said.
“It was possibly a fractured skull and she had some pretty significant head injuries,” said Gregg Sweeten, Emergency Management Director for McDonald County. “The other two were transported with minor injuries from flying debris. There were two others that were checked that were trying to get a way from the wind that weren’t transported, but three were actually transported to the hospital.”
Sweeten says the woman pinned by the tree is still in the hospital, but in stable condition.
Falling trees damaged cars and camper trailers.
Not far a way, Elk Springs Road was almost completely blocked by trees.
That road includes Trussell Bridge where canoers were struck by a falling tree, one suffering moderate injuries.
The wind also brought down power lines.
“At one campground, the transformer telephone pole was completely snapped,” Sweeten said. “Then there was an abandoned river crossing that was still up and it dropped power lines just a couple feet above the river, but luckily they weren’t hot when that happened.”
Those at the campsite or in the water say what scared them the most was how suddenly the storm began.
“It was a horrific event that happened,” said Gary Gordsberry, witness.
“I think it makes people more aware that this stuff can happen,” Kuykendall said.
Some say they will not let the incident scare them a way from future float trips.
“We’ll be back next year,” Gordsberry said.
Officials do not recommend taking shelter near trees or in water, but say your best option is to make yourself the lowest lying object around until the lightning clears.