Windstorm causes widespread damage in Barry County

Trees, power lines downed; 12K meters without power

By Kyle Troutman ktroutman@cassville-democrat.com

A severe thunderstorm in the early morning hours Sunday caused widespread damage to trees and power lines in Barry County, with the cities of Cassville and Exeter, and the Eagle Rock and Shell Knob areas, bearing the brunt of the damage.

David Compton, director of the Barry County Office of Emergency Management, said his office is working to tally the extent of the damage to apply for individual assistance from FEMA for damages to property.

People who have damage to their home due to wind, hail or rain should call 211 and report all damages. Operators of the line also have resources available to help with damage repair and cleanup, matching resources to need by assessment.

“We have a lot of local organizations we can match people up with,” Compton said. “We have some crews doing chainsaw work, and also local churches helping, and some may qualify for Red Cross or FEMA assistance.”

The Barry County Commission has declared a state of disaster, which has been submitted to the State of Missouri to declare to FEMA for public and individual assistance.

The threshold for public assistance is $135,000 incurred for removal of debris from public spaces. Compton said the county will surpass that amount soon. 

Individual assistance requires an impact assessment of damages to homes and property, especially without insurance. A high reported impact may open up FEMA assistance to homeowners.

Businesses may also report damages and may qualify for low-interest, reasonable payback Small Business Administration loans to enable timely repairs. Compton said 20-50 businesses with 40% uninsured loss is the general guideline for that type of assistance.

The storm on Sunday left about 12,500 meters without power, half of which are serviced by Barry Electric and the other half by Carroll County Electric.

A timeline for power restoration was unclear as of noon on Sunday, but Compton said Barry Electric had all its crews out working to replace the numerous broken power poles and downed lines.

By Monday afternoon, about 4,600 Barry Electric customers remained without power and about 1,500 for Carroll County. Damage to local substations and power poles, with many snapped in half, as well as lines tangled in down trees, presented the biggest challenges for Barry Electric.

For those still without power, Compton’s office has set up two respite centers, which are not full shelters but do provide a space for people to have air conditioning, a meal and charge devices.

The Family Life Center, located at 200 E. Fifth St. in Cassville, will open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, and Wednesday if necessary, and the Central Crossing Senior Center, 20801 YY-15 in Shell Knob, will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, also on Wednesday if necessary.

The American Red Cross, Clark Center and other resources will also be available at those locations.

The storm that caused it came from Oklahoma and straddled the Missouri-Arkansas state line, moving west to east at 65 miles per hour.

“That storm did produce a tornado in the Bentonville-Rogers area,” Compton said. “The north edge of that storm was what hit Barry County. We kept detecting mid-level rotation, but that does not mean there’s a tornado, just that the conditions are there to create one.

“We stood with our fingers on the buttons for the sirens all night because we thought we’d have to activate them. We had sustained winds of 60 miles per hour and gusts of 80-plus, and we can’t sound sirens for gusts.”

Compton said hail from the storm reached about golf ball size, with larger hail in localized areas. No softball size hail was reported. Because of the risk of larger hail, spotters were directed to spot from sheltered locations to avoid injury.

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  1. They should consider changing their siren policy. A lot of places sound their sirens not only for tornados but also for hail over a certain size and winds over 70mph. In this day and age they’re to alert people of any outdoor hazard that requires them to go inside. Definitely a thought, they CAN sound the sirens for gusts, they just need to change their policy. The entirety of North Texas and OKC does this and it’s worked well for them.