Tornadoes tear through Mid-South, causing severe damage in Arkansas, Tennessee

Covington tornado damage
Covington tornado damage(Cheryl Carlisle)
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 7:44 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 1, 2023 at 1:36 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Mid-South was ravaged by severe storms Friday that devastated homes, businesses, and left thousands seeking cover from tornadoes.

Little Rock was severely impacted by a tornado before storms swept east, hitting Wynne, Arkansas.

Three fatalities have been confirmed so far: one in Little Rock and four in Wynne.

Covington police say that there is one dead in Tipton County near Brighton.

Seven people were killed in McNairy County.

According to Wynne Police Chief Richard Dennis, there is “total destruction throughout the town” and several people trapped after the tornado touched ground just before 5 p.m. Friday.

Wynne High School also took a direct hit and sustained major damage.

There are also reports of people trapped and property damage in Forrest City, Arkansas.

In northeast Phillips County, the Barton-Lexa Fire Chief says the area suffered damage from heavy winds.

He says shingles have blown off roofs, trees are down, and one home was moved completely off its foundation, but was miraculously “still livable.”

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders activated the Arkansas National Guard to assist state police and local law enforcement in search and rescue efforts.

According to Arkansas Emergency Management, 80,000 are without power across the state.

Tornadoes also touched ground in Tipton County, Tennessee.

Just before 6 p.m., a tornado passed through Covington, causing significant damage to homes and businesses, as well as major roadways, such as Main Street, Highway 51 and Highway 59, making the city “impassable,” according to police.

Thousands are without power in the area, according to the Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation outage map.

According to a spokesperson at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Tipton, the hospital is open and undamaged and has treated five people for storm-related injuries so far.

According to Tipton County Sheriff Shannon Beasley, the tornado touched down from the west side of Highway 51 around Holly Grove, traveled down Mueller Brass, and hit Covington Middle School, Highway 59, and the Burnett area, causing severe damage to homes and structures and downing trees and electrical lines.

According to Covington Police Chief Donna Turner, Crestview Middle School also suffered damage. She says Covington police are getting assistance from the Tennessee Highway Patrol and other agencies.

Search and rescue teams are also being coordinated.

Efforts are being made to clear Highway 51 for emergency crews to pass through. Several roadways are blocked.

Drivers are asked to avoid the Covington area altogether and are advised not to enter the city unless it is urgent.

Friday’s storms also impacted DeSoto County, Mississippi.

According to the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department, the Koko Reef Lake area near Hernando was the hardest hit.

Deputies report downed trees and power lines along with structural damage, but no injuries. Power is also out in the area, according to DCSD.

Damage is still being assessed.

Action News 5 will be updating this story as information comes in.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.