Church, homes damaged by possible tornadoes, thousands without power
NWS survey crew found tornado damage from EF-2, west/southwest of Maynard; one of eight found in region
JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The remnants of Laura took a toll on Northeast Arkansas Thursday night, spawning destructive tornadoes.
Several homes and the Refuge Baptist Church in Lake City were damaged by Laura as the storm made its way through the state.
Late Friday, the National Weather Service said a survey crew from its Little Rock office found tornado damage consistent with a EF-2 rating west/southwest of Maynard.
NWS officials say a house had major roof damage, with most of the walls still standing.
NWS officials with the Memphis office also said Friday there was a report of at least seven other tornadoes in the area during Thursday’s storms.
Officials said Sunday that an eighth tornado was also discovered in Woodruff County.
The Refuge Baptist Church at 5002 Highway 18, Lake City was destroyed Thursday night by a possible tornado.
Luckily there were no injuries, and the church posted Friday morning on their Facebook page about the damage.
“What breaks my heart the most is the congregants that are going through this a second time, seeing them cry last night and those who are pulling in this morning and looking at it. It’s just a building. We’re God’s people and He protected us,” Pastor Steve Hinkle said.
The church was hit by a tornado in 1984, according to Pastor Steve.
He, his wife, and son live in the church’s parsonage. They took shelter in their bathroom as the possible tornado passed over their house.
“We could feel the shaking, we heard the tornado. Scary, but it happened so quick it was almost surreal,” he said.
After a few minutes passed, the family went outside to see the damage.
“She turns the corner from the parsonage and she just started crying because she saw … well basically God protected us and our family.”
The church’s steeple, children’s playset, the Family Life Center, the pavilion, and clothes closet – all gone.
“You look at these buildings and the destruction, but God wants to take that mess and He wants to make it beautiful,” he said.
Sunday services have not been set yet, but Pastor Steve said they will gather for worship one way or another.
In the Goobertown community, several homes in the Pepper Tree subdivision were damaged by a possible tornado.
Homeowner Blake Campbell told Region 8 News they were just able to make it to the basement before the side and back of the house were severely damaged. The family was able to walk away with no injuries.
Within minutes after the damage, the community was rushing to their aid, “We had 20 or 30 people pitching in trying to get things out of the house, trying to save pictures, just doing everything that could. Everybody’s been amazing, and I can’t thank them enough,” Campbell said.
Campbell said, “It really hasn’t sunk in yet honestly. I’m just happy everyone is safe and accounted for and nobody got hurt. This house can be replaced, the contents inside can be replaced.”
Other homes in the subdivision did sustain damage as well. No injuries were reported.
In Jonesboro rescue crews also responded to the 1900 block of Duncan Road Thursday evening due to a tree on top of a mobile home, with someone inside. There was no word on any injuries.
Multiple power poles were down across MLK Blvd.
The National Weather Service also reported power lines and a power pole down at Martin Luther King Jr. and I-555, while power lines were down at Nettleton, Matthews, and Airport Road.
Highway 91 in the Egypt area was also closed off to traffic due to downed trees and power lines, according to Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley.
Transformers were also blown, with power lines down in Sedgwick, the National Weather Service said.
A few homes were also damaged in Jackson County.
Several trees and power poles were downed by high winds, which also was the main worry of farmers.
According to the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, there were reports of damage throughout Region 8.
There was property damage in Cleburne County, while downed trees were reported in Cross County. Also, the city of Hickory Ridge had damage to several city buildings.
Downed power lines were reported in Lawrence and Woodruff counties, while at one house in Randolph County received damage. State emergency officials also said a house in Evening Shade received damage, while trees were down throughout Sharp County. A downed power pole also caught on fire in Sharp County, but authorities were able to extinguish the fire.
Laura leaves many without power
Craighead Electric reported as of 11:15 p.m. that there were about 450 customers without power. They had whittled that number down to 5 by 6:30 a.m. Friday.
Entergy Arkansas reported nearly 41,000 customers were without power as of 11:20 p.m. Thursday.
Area counties without power late Thursday included with nearly 2,300 customers in Independence County, 1,500 customers in Woodruff County and 1,200 customers in White County.
What is left of Hurricane Laura will move over northeast Arkansas and into Southeast Missouri by Friday afternoon.
Friday should bring 1-2″ of rain with the southeastern part of Region 8 receiving closer to 3″. Winds will be 15-25 mph with gusts from 40-45 mph, some could be higher. Again, the severe risk is low.
As the storm closed in on the Natural State Thursday, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for Arkansas.
With the declaration, the president authorized the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts with state and local officials.
At last report in Louisiana, at least 4 people had died, with Lake Charles bearing the brunt of the damage.
Laura’s powerful gusts blew out windows in tall buildings and tossed around glass and debris. Police spotted a floating casino that came unmoored and hit a bridge.
Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered Lake Charles residents to shelter in place and turn off air conditions after an apparent chemical fire
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