Member of Congress: Tornado-damaged hospital in rural Missouri will be reopened as soon as possible (AUDIO)
A congressman from Southeast Missouri said residents of the small town of Dexter were grateful there were no injuries or deaths in Saturday night’s EF-2 tornado, which struck the city hospital and damaged at least 150 homes.
US Representative Jason Smith (R-Salem), who visited Dexter’s neighborhoods on Tuesday, said the tornado blew winds of 120 miles per hour and remained on the ground for more than five miles.
“When we walked through the residential area, there were trailers that were completely destroyed. Lots of houses (where) trees crossed all the way, ”says Smith.
Paducah’s National Weather Service (NWS) said the tornado struck at 8:18 p.m. on Saturday. Most of the damaged houses no longer have shingles and siding, and several have suffered fallen trees. Several garages were also blown from their foundations.
The NWS says hundreds of trees in Dexter and Stoddard counties have been uprooted or broken.
Congressman Smith also visited Dexter Hospital, which remains closed Wednesday morning. He says there is extensive damage to the South East Health Hospital.
The Southeast Missourian reports that the hospital will remain closed until structural assessments are completed and operations are restored. A command center has been set up on the hospital site.
The NWS says the tornado blew out the windows and ceiling panels of the hospital.
“Patients from West Plains to St. Louis were diverted and everything was done without anyone being hurt. You’re talking about the Dexter community growing up and taking care of their friends and neighbors, ”Smith says.
Missourinet Cape Girardeau television partner KFVS reports that 22 patients and 40 Southeast Health staff were evacuated after the tornado. The NWS office in Paducah said the tornado also damaged many vehicles parked at Dexter hospital.
Congressman Smith, the ranked Republican on the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill, said it was crucial that the tornado-damaged Dexter hospital reopen quickly. Smith District has seen five rural hospital closures since 2016, and says area residents depend on Dexter Hospital.
“Dexter has over 7,500 people. It covers Stoddard County and the other counties when it comes to health care needs, so we need to open this hospital ASAP, ”Smith said.
State Representative Herman Morse (R-Dexter) and other officials joined Congressman Smith for Tuesday’s hospital tour, where they also met with utility workers who have worked tirelessly to restore power. The Southeast Missourian reports that Ameren Missouri has restored power to the hospital and adjacent medical building, and crews are repairing the roof. They will then have to clean the hospital care units.
Smith praised the work of the Ameren Missouri teams.
The tornado, which crossed Highway 60, also hit Dexter’s Burger King restaurant. Smith says all telephone poles near the hospital were torn apart by the tornado, but have since been restored.
Smith notes that the neighboring town of Bootheel, Malden, was struck by an EF-2 tornado in 2018. Tornado Malden caused significant damage to 40 homes. The damage caused by this tornado was estimated at $ 2 million.
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with U.S. Representative Jason Smith (R-Salem), which was recorded on July 13, 2021, right after the congressman visited tornado-damaged Dexter:
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