Siren-less city of Butterfield hit by tornado
In a city that has no tornado sirens, there was no warning for Butterfield residents Thursday when a 50-yard-wide EF-0 tornado struck 4 miles west of the city, north of Farm Road 2120 and west of Farm Road 1052.
According to Donald Privett, Butterfield police chief, police were not aware of a tornado until they responded to the home of Krista Craig on Farm Road 2115. The roof of Craig's mobile home had been damaged, and a number of trees in a nearby pasture were damaged from the tornado, which struck at about 1:45 p.m. and was on the ground for five minutes, according to the weather service.
"We didn't see anything on the radar and there were no warnings, and when we got the call to go down to the house was when we discovered it all," Privett said. "The weather service said they were unable to find a rotation pattern, but about 30-45 minutes after we talked to them, we located some trees that were down north of Farm road 2120, and that's how they determined it was an EF-0."
Privett said no one was injured during the storm, which had winds up to 85 miles per hour. According to Privett, Craig was in her mobile home at the time of the tornado with her 3-year-old and 4-year-old children.
"I was at home with my two girls and we were taking a nap because I work nights," Craig said. "My youngest was laying beside me and I felt her moving and trying to wake me up. I thought it was just the thunder scaring her, so I said it would be OK, and she said, 'no, it's not OK.'
"That's when I opened my eyes and the whole house was moving. I tried to stand up bout got knocked down, so I just sat there until it was over and all I could hear was rain."
Craig said she exited her home and was leaving the house before she realized her roof had been torn off.
"I don't even have words to describe any of it," she said. "The best way I can describe it is that it sounded like there was a car wreck on top of my house."
The American Red Cross is offering assistance to Craig, putting her and her daughters up in a hotel room for now. Craig said she will likely stay with her parents for a bit before figuring out how to move forward.
With no sirens and no warnings, Craig said the experience has changed the way she thinks about storms now.
"It wasn't even raining when we laid down, and I had the TV on channel 12 and there was no warning there, that's why I wasn't sure what really happened," she said. "My dad has lived out there for 30 years and he said he's never had anything like that happen to him, and my trailer is even down in a valley. I've never been afraid of storms before, but I have a totally different outlook now."
Privett said the city has never had tornado sirens, and even if Cassville and Purdy sirens go off, there's no guarantee Butterfield residents will hear them.
"A tornado went through in 1988 that was an EF-2, and it took out half the town, and we had one fatality," he said. "Our warning siren is for the police and fire departments to get out and blare our car sirens to try to let people know, and we're also trying to do more with social media.
"If the Cassville sirens go off, you can hear them on a clear day if you're outside. But, if you're inside watching TV, you can't hear them. And, I have never heard the Purdy sirens before."
Privett said he has been working to get tornado sirens in the city of about 400 residents, but has not had any luck funding a siren project.