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Several injured as storms tear roof from Arkansas apartments

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Several people were injured when a possible tornado tore the roof off an Arkansas apartment building, part of a powerful line of thunderstorms that was dumping more rain Thursday on already drenched areas throughout the nation’s midsection.

The severe weather moved eastward Thursday after forcing people from their homes in Kansas, soaking Houston once again , and straining levees along the surging Mississippi River on Wednesday.

The flooding has caused billions of dollars of damage to farmland, homes and businesses across the Midwest, with some rivers above flood stage for more than six weeks now.

In Arkansas, about 150 people were displaced Wednesday after the storm ripped the roof from an apartment complex in Pine Bluff, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southeast of Little Rock.

Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said there was extensive damage to buildings, and four injuries at the apartment.

“One of those is probably going to be pretty severe,” Sergeant said of the injured people. “Three others walked out of the scene, and we may have had one who was having chest pains.”

Resident Carla Jackson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that she heard a loud boom and that the storm moved in quickly.

“First there were real high winds and then a loud boom, and next thing you know the lights started blinking. We heard the transformer blow, then another transformer blow, and then it just went black,” she said.

The National Weather Service planned to send a survey team to Pine Bluff to determine whether it was a tornado or straight-line winds that caused the damage.

In Kansas, flooding waterways forced evacuations and school closures Wednesday. Problems continued Thursday, with a 19-year-old rescued from the roof of her car near Emporia. And the Kansas Turnpike remained closed near the Oklahoma border.

The National Weather Service predicted the Missouri River would crest Thursday in St. Joseph, Missouri, at a level that causes parkland and a residential area to flood.

In northwest Missouri’s Holt County, emergency management director Tom Bullock said a few people who had moved back home after March’s flooding busted levees were forced out again late Wednesday by rising water. His own home is now unreachable.

“The water won’t go away,” he said.

Wind-driven water caused more flooding in southeastern Michigan along western Lake Erie following recent rainfall that contributed to high water levels in the Great Lakes.

Firefighters in Monroe County’s Berlin Township used a boat to reach those stranded at homes by high water near Lake Erie. In nearby Frenchtown Township, pumps were used to clear roadways.

More severe weather is possible through the weekend, and forecasters said flash flooding is likely in Texas and Louisiana on Thursday and Friday.

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