By John Newland and Matthew DeLuca, NBC News
A forceful storm system whipped tornadoes and severe thunderstorms across Missouri and Arkansas late Wednesday, wrecking homes, downing power lines and injuring multiple people in both states.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency as the severe storm system that he said included tornadoes walloped suburbs west and southwest of St. Louis. He planned to tour affected areas Thursday.
"This was a strong system of storms that caused damage to communities in several areas of our state," Nixon said in a statement. "We will continue to work closely with local officials to assess damages and provide any needed assistance."
While authorities in Arkansas could not confirm that any tornadoes struck their state, three homes were destroyed and more than 50 damaged along with a church, according to Tommy Jackson, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency management. An unknown number of people were trapped inside their home when a tree fell on it in the southeast county of Lincoln, Jackson said.
The National Weather Service announced it would send response teams to survey an area near Clinton, Ark., to determine whether one or more tornadoes had touched down. Van Buren County, in the central north of the state, was reportedly among the hardest hit as the storm swept over Arkansas. More than 30 homes were damaged, six were destroyed, and a fire department was heavily damaged, according to county judge Roger Hooper. Four people were treated for non-life threatening injuries.The Weather Channel received four reports of tornadoes in Van Buren County, all of them within 24 minutes, said meteorologist Kevin Roth – which could mean that one tornado was reported multiple times in the county.
The storm made a plaything of an 18-wheeler in Botkinburg, Ark., tossing the truck and causing damage to a house, Roth said.