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Arkansas governor declares a state of emergency after Friday night storms

Published: Dec. 11, 2021 at 9:38 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2021 at 5:26 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has declared a state of emergency after several tornadoes tore through the natural state.

“What’s unusual from my perspective is the length of the damage and how many cities it touched,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson spent Saturday morning touring storm damage in Northeast Arkansas, including a stop at a local nursing home in Monette where one person was killed at a local nursing home.

According to Craighead County Judge Marvin Day, at least 20 people had to be rescued after being trapped inside the nursing home Friday.

Monette Mayor Bob Blankenship said the last time Monette suffer significant storm damage was in 1984.

“Once Craighead County was put under the warning, we automatically activate our emergency warning...” Blankenship said. “So, once that’s received, the people get a warning. So, we had a 25 minute warning before this hit.”

Rachel Bunch, Executive Director of the Arkansas Health Care Association released the following statement after Friday night’s tragedy:

“Last night, tornadoes devastated the town of Monette, Arkansas. The extent of damage is still being assessed. Our thoughts and prayers are with all residents, staff and families impacted. AHCA member facility, Monette Manor, took a direct hit and the facility was completely destroyed. Monette Manor had 65 residents in the facility when the tornado struck. Thanks to quick-acting staff, local EMS and state search and rescue, we were able to evacuate the residents. Regrettably, one fatality has been reported and others injuries are being evaluated. Some of the residents are now at home with family members, some were taken to local long-term care facilities and some are in nearby hospitals.

We’re thankful for the outpouring of support we’ve received from the community and nearby long-term care facilities that offered nurses, staff and beds to aid our evacuation efforts.

We are still in the process of communicating with families. Staff members prioritized safe evacuation first and began contacting family members once residents were safe.

Unfortunately, cell towers were knocked out from the storm and all computers and files were completely lost, which has impacted our family communications efforts.”

During his visit, Governor Hutchinson emphasized the importance of reporting any damage to your local Office of Emergency Management so they can make an assessment and calculate the loss and see if the area qualifies for federal aid.

“From here I’ll be going through Leachville and looking at the facility there from the air and then we will be continuing to work to access the damage,” Hutchinson said.

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