"We had a little tornado earlier ... and they blew all the sirens. When this one came in, our sirens weren't working," Hill said. But he later said in televised reports that some reported hearing sirens closer to the tornado's track though he didn't from his home about 10 blocks away.
The American Red Cross summoned volunteers to drive relief trucks from Oklahoma City to aid the rescue crews in and around Woodward he said were pressed to the limit by the immediate disaster response.
"They're in chaos mode," said Rusty Surette, a regional communications director for the American Red Cross in Oklahoma City, speaking of authorities in Woodward.
He said trucks with cots, food, water and medical and hygiene supplies would head to the area, where a shelter was established in a church for those rendered homeless. More than 8,000 people were without power.
Dave Wallace, chief executive officer of Woodward Regional Hospital, said 29 people, five of them in critical condition, were brought to the hospital for treatment of injuries ranging fractures and serious injuries to cuts and bruises. Three patients have been transferred to other hospitals and four were admitted, he added.
"We transferred them to a hospital with a higher level of care," Wallace said. "We're not a trauma center."
Numerous tornadoes were reported in Kansas, though mostly in rural parts of the western and central sections of the state. A reported tornado in Wichita that struck late Saturday night caused damage at McConnell Air Force Base and the Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing plants. A mobile home park was heavily damaged in the city, although no injuries or deaths were reported.
The county where Wichita is located was declared a state of disaster and said preliminary estimates suggest damages could be as high as $283 million.
Yvonne Tucker rushed to a shelter with about 60 of her neighbors at Pinaire Mobile Home Park. She said people were crying and screaming, and the shelter's lights went out when the twister hit. When they came back outside, they found several homes destroyed, including Tucker's.
"I didn't think it was that bad until I walked down my street and everything is gone," said Tucker, 49. "I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go. I've seen it on TV, but when it happens to you it is unreal.
"I just feel lost."
A hospital in Creston, about 75 miles southwest of Des Moines, suffered roof damage and had some of its windows blown out by the storm, but patients and staff were not hurt. Medical center officials were calling other area hospitals to determine how many beds they had available in case they needed to move patients.
In Nebraska, baseball-sized hail shattered windows and tore siding from houses in and around Petersburg, about 140 miles northwest of Omaha. In southeast Nebraska, an apparent tornado took down barns, large trees and some small rural structures.
Kristin Dean, who was among the Wichita mobile home taking shelter from the storm, said she was shaking as she was being pushed from home in her wheelchair. She was able to grab a bag of her possessions before going into the shelter and that was all she had left. Her home was gone.
"It got still," the 37-year-old woman, who's in a wheelchair after hurting her leg a month ago, recalled of the scene inside the shelter. "Then we heard a wham, things flying. Everybody screamed, huddling together.
"It is devastating, but you know, we are alive."
Hegeman reported from Wichita, Kan. Associated Press reporters Grant Schulte in Thurman, Iowa; Rochelle Hines in Oklahoma City; Timberly Ross in Omaha, Neb.; David Pitt in Osceola, Iowa; and Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Mo. contributed to this report.
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