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Tornado rips through Bootheel Saturday

Monday, April 22, 2002

CHARLESTON - The tornado that blew through the area Saturday afternoon resulted in an area couple losing everything.

The Mississippi County Sheriff's Department reports that Jeff and Vickie Humphrey's mobile home on Road 322 was completely destroyed along with everything inside. However, no one was injured.

The tornado also blew the roof off of the co-op on Iron Bank Road.

On Sunday, a tornado tore through a swath of southern Illinois, killing at least one person and injuring dozens of others, authorities said.

The twister was part of a violent storm that hit Wayne and Jefferson counties Sunday afternoon, said Chief Deputy J. B. Fletcher of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.

The body of Michael D. Watkinson, 47, was found inside his mobile home in a rural area near Wayne City, said Coroner Jimmy Taylor.

''You could see the destruction and the path that was made,'' said Wayne County Coroner Jimmy Taylor. ''It picked the mobile home up, moved it some 30 feet and leveled it.''

A tornado also was reported in the rural towns of Fairfield and Sims, Fletcher said. He said about 30 people were treated for minor injuries at Fairfield Memorial Hospital, adding that high winds uprooted trees, demolished houses and trailer homes and caused other property damage.

In the town of Sims, several homes and businesses -- including the county's only tavern -- were destroyed. A salvage yard was also hit there, scattering debris for hundreds of yards and flipping over tractor-trailers.

Some of the injured were transferred to St. Louis hospitals with serious injuries, officials said.