The massive tornado, more than a mile wide, spread its impact across neighboring states.
Utah native, Kelly Wheeler, lives in Arkansas and said his family spent about 30 minutes in their storm shelter as sirens echoed tornado warnings in their city.
“Part of northwest Arkansas are without power and a lot of trees are down,” he said.
The city of Moore, Oklahoma saw the most devastation. The tornado there wiped out entire neighborhoods and flattened homes and schools.
Tom Panuzio, a Homeland Security Expert, said the twister is a forecaster’s nightmare.
“The first 24 hours are critical,” Panuzio said. “As history tells us this will turn from an urban search and rescue to an urban search and recovery.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement to ABC 4 Utah about the severe weather in Oklahoma.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the severe weather,” Spokesman Dale Jones said. “All missionaries have been accounted for and will continue to take appropriate safety precautions.”
As on Monday evening, the death toll was at 51 and rising. At least 20 fatalities were children.
To help those affected contact the American Red Cross: www.redcross.org/index.jsp