Storms blow through Barry County, leave man dead in Aurora

Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Storage units on Farm Road 1085 near highway C in Purdy were lifted off their concrete slab on Saturday morning, having to be removed from the train tracks before Burlington Northern could continue its normal routes. Most of the property contained in the units was left stacked on the slab, sustaining some damage. Kyle Troutman/

Storage units in Purdy blown onto train tracks

A severe storm line took residents of Barry and Lawrence counties a bit by surprise early Saturday morning, producing two tornadoes in the area, leaving one person dead and damaging property across the two counties.

According to a National Weather Service report, at about 12:35 a.m. Saturday, an EF-1 tornado led to one fatality in Aurora in Lawrence County. Scott Lakin, Lawrence County coroner, identified the man as Jeremy Lewis, 34, of the Aurora area.

Connie Goetz picks out a salvageable box of items from a storage unit containing the possessions of her late parents. Kyle Troutman/

A Weather Service report said the tornado developed west of the water tower and tracked northeast to the USA Inn, then north across Highway 60 before dissipating. The track lasted about half a mile, and winds reached up to 105 miles per hour.

Bonnie Witt-Schulte, Lawrence County Emergency Management Director, said the USA Inn sustained significant damages, with some rooms on the first floor of the two-story building lost.

“We had a report of injuries and a partial structural collapse,” Witt-Schulte said. “As that was proceeding, we started getting calls about the trailer park on Highway 60, downed power lines on the highway and movement into Marionville with less damage.”

Despite the occasion, Mike Goetz, left, and Stave Fair found humor in trying to figure out who broke the top of a dresser contained in one of the storage units blown away by a storm in Purdy Saturday morning. Markings on the furniture looked as if the unit hit it as the unit was lifted off the concrete slab. Kyle Troutman/

Witt-Schulte said Lewis was staying at the hotel and was found outside after the storm. First responders attempted to resuscitate Lewis but were unsuccessful.

Damage to the Aurora area left Highway 60 closed for one-and-a-half hours, and Highway 39 south from Highway 60 was also closed. The tornado traveled from the hotel across Highway 60 to Sutherlands Lumber, then it lifted and produced widespread straight-line winds due northeast to Marionville.

Many vehicles received damage at the Mayes Automotive lot. Company crews moved all the vehicles off the Elliott Street side of the lot and brought in equipment to clear shattered glass.

Electric crews dealt with whipping winds as they worked to fix the telephone pole at Highway 112 and Main Street in Cassville Saturday morning. The damage was caused by a round of storms that moved through the southwest Missouri area overnight. Kyle Troutman/

In Monett, the Southwind Village subdivision off Highway 37 on the south side of Race Brothers saw damages from an EF-0 tornado tracking northwest to Mt. Vernon. At about 12:15 a.m., winds reached up to 80 miles per hour and the tornado with a path width of 25-50 yards tracked 0.1 miles before lifting west of Highway 37, causing a variety of damage. Multiple homes sustained roof damage, and one home, which had recently been build and was vacant, sustained significant structural damage.

At 1203 Aaron Ave., resident Stephanie Cogdill told her three-year-old daughter she could sleep with her mother that night, something Cogdill generally doesn't do. When the storm hit at 12:25 a.m., it shattered the daughter's bedroom window and covered the bed with glass.

At 1204 Aaron Ave., owner Cory Howard described hearing “a giant burst of wind” that lasted 15-20 seconds. Next door, at 1206 Aaron Ave., a large section of roof was torn off. Across the street, a pickup in the driveway at 1205 Aaron received a heavy hit. Howard said neighbors speculated the damage came from the roof.

Repair work underway Saturday morning at Stephanie Cogdill's home at 1203 Aaron Ave. in Monett's Southwind Village subdivision. Murray Bishoff/

On the next block to the east at Amanda Avenue, a new home recently finished at 1202 Amanda had the entire roof torn off. The house was not occupied at the time. Bill Schliem, visiting his son, Troy Schliem, across the street, described how pieces from the roof tore into his son's house, shattering a window and knocking a hole in the roof.

Leaders with the Waldensian Presbyterian Church, a half-mile east of the Southwind Village subdivision, responded to a call from police that several windows and the door had been broken from storm winds. Trees on the church grounds were also damaged.

Witt-Schulte said the storm developed so fast, there was no warning issued for Monett.

Damage to the roof at 1206 Aaron Ave. in Monett. Murray Bishoff/

“There were warnings for Marionville and Aurora,” she said. “We started getting Monett damage reports when the Aurora warning came out.”

In Purdy, straight-line winds blew over a set of storage units, falling to rest on the nearby train tracks near Highway C but leaving the contents of each unit stacked in its place on the concrete slab.

“We had to call Burlington Northern and stop the trains until we removed the debris,” Witt-Schulte said.

Damage to the pickup at 1205 Aaron Ave. believed to have been caused by flying debris from the roof across the street. Murray Bishoff/

Purdy resident Connie Goetz was on scene the Saturday afternoon with Mike Goetz and Steve Fare trucking off salvageable belongings from her unit containing her mother’s and father’s belongings, put in storage after their passing in February.

“Mike was at church when we got the call [Saturday] morning from the owner saying there was damage,” Connie Goetz said. “We live about a mile east of here and I got up because of the wind being so loud, but I would have never guessed it was this bad.”

Witt-Schulte also asked for anyone with damage to make a report with the dispatch center by calling 417-235-4241 ext. 2.

The most severely damaged home in Monett, at 1202 Amanda Ave. in the Southwind Village subdivision, lost its roof in the storm Saturday morning. Murray Bishoff/
The USA Inn in Aurora sustained significant damages during an EF-1 tornado that blew through the city early Saturday morning. Murray Bishoff/
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