After a rash of tornadoes and heavy storms rolled into the South and Midwest overnight, the death toll has reached 18 people including two children. Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Missouri and Tennessee are on continued tornado watch for Monday.
According to CNN, "After a limited overnight effort to find survivors or bodies in the hard-hit Arkansas towns of Vilonia and Mayflower, rescue crews launched a 'deliberate, concentrated search and rescue effort" Monday morning,' said county spokesman David Hogue in Arkansas. The number of residents missing is unconfirmed at this time.
"In addition to the  Faulkner County deaths, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said five people died in Pulaski County and one died in White County. Authorities reported one storm-related death in Oklahoma and another in Iowa," reports CNN.
Vilonia's Mayor James Firestone tells CNN, "There's a few buildings partially standing, but the amount of damage is tremendous. There's gas lines spewing. Of course, power lines down. Houses are just a pile of brick."
Winds in Mayflower were estimated at 130 to 150 mph.
"The same line of storms hit Baxter Springs, Kansas, just a few miles to the north. Sixty to 70 homes and at least 20 businesses were reported destroyed, said Cherokee County emergency manager Jason Allison," further reports CNN. "A tornado estimated to be three blocks wide rumbled through the town of 4,200, he said." One woman in Kinross, Iowa, was also killed by the same storm.
Almost 18,000 homes and businesses are now without power across Arkansas, where Gov. Mike Beebe has issued a disaster declaration for Faulkner, Pulaski and White counties.
SEE A GALLERY OF TORNADO DAMAGE PHOTOS HERE.