‘Prayers for the family’: Missouri woman killed in tornado was wife, mother

Betty Berg was one of three people killed by a tornado Wednesday near the Missouri town of Golden City. She was also a wife and a mother.

Her husband Mark was seriously injured and remained hospitalized Thursday, when a family friend called for help from the public to raise money for Berg’s funeral.

Berg, 56, died when the EF-3 tornado hit Barton County about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and traveled 12 miles across it, leaving homes without roofs and flinging sheets of metal siding across rural roads. Kenneth Harris, 86, and his wife Opal Harris, 83, were also killed.

The next day, a GoFundMe page was set up by Jackie Cox Lance, a family friend of Betty Berg’s.

“We ask for prayers for the family and if you could help out with funeral expenses it would be greatly appreciated,” the page said.

As people in Barton County picked up the pieces, they said Berg was a good neighbor. The Harrises were too, and lived in Golden City their entire lives.

While the small community of about 750 people around Golden City mourns the loss of three of its members, several families are also dealing with damaged homes. About eight houses and one business sustained serious damage. Some of the homes were completely flattened. Another was so damaged that it was bulldozed Thursday afternoon.

In addition to local, regional and statewide agencies, the Red Cross and Convoy of Hope responded to provide support.

Red Cross volunteer Jackie Kennedy described the destruction as “complete annihilation.”

She said surviving the tornado in Joplin that struck eight years to the day before the one in Golden City gave her an understanding of how a disaster impacts a community.

According to the National Weather Service, five tornadoes touched down in Missouri and a part of Kansas in a span of about four hours Wednesday night. In Jefferson City, 25 people were injured and 100 were staying in shelters.

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Katie Moore covers crime and justice issues for The Star. She is a University of Kansas graduate and was previously a reporter in her hometown of Topeka, Kansas.