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Ozarks Residents Survey Damage After Deadly Tornado

Residents in three southwest Missouri counties are still recovering from Saturday night's deadly tornado, which swept through the area with winds up to 200 miles per hour and claimed 15 lives in Missouri alone.

KSMU's Jennifer Moore traveled to the disaster-hit area and files this report.

Seneca resident Karisa Boyers is, for the moment, living off a power generator while she waits for the electricity to return.

She lives on Highway 43, where Saturday night's E-F4 twister touched down. She was not home at the time of the tornado, and when she returned, she was overwhelmed by what she saw.

Boyers said when her husband ventured a few hundred yards down the road, he stumbled upon a disaster zone.

Moore: "I'm standing here in a field just outside of Seneca, Missouri, on the Oklahoma state line. This is the center of Saturday night's E-F4 tornado. And I'm standing where there used to be a bridal and tuxedo shop, and it's just leveled all the way to its foundation, to the ground. Scattered throughout the field are scores of bridal dresses, beautiful gowns, tiaras, as well as overturned cars. One SUV here in front of me was carrying a family of four on its way to a wedding. Another car, which is totally crushed, to my right, was thrown from Highway 43 and now rests on a home. The woman in that car was reportedly killed as well."

50 miles east, in Purdy, Missouri, Congressman Roy Blunt met with locals this afternoon and toured that community, which was also ravaged by tornadoes.

He told reporters that Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff is expected to arrive tomorrow to evaluate the area's need for federal diaster relief money.

Meanwhile, residents continue to comb through scattered debris and patch their roofs before tomorrow, which is expected to bring more thunderstorms to the area.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore in Newton County.