Weather service: Ark. in for more severe weather
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
VILONIA, Ark. (AP) — A day after a series of powerful storms in Arkansas killed 10 people in flooding and a tornado that twisted a tractor-trailer like a wrung dish rag, residents in several states braced Tuesday for a second straight night of violent weather as forecasters again called for twisters to hammer the region.
The National Weather Service issued a high risk warning for severe weather in a stretch extending from northeast of Memphis to just northeast of Dallas and covering a large swath of Arkansas. It last issued such a warning on April 16, when dozens of tornadoes hit North Carolina and killed 21 people.
The forecast came as communities in much of the region struggled with flooding and the aftermath of tornadoes that destroyed homes and businesses. In Arkansas, a tornado smashed Vilonia, just north of Little Rock, on Monday night, ripping the roof off the grocery store, flattening homes and tossing vehicles into the air.
Four people died in less-than-sturdy structures in the Black Oak Subdivision of Vilonia. Two were a couple from Greenbrier, David and Katherine Talley, who sought shelter in a detached trailer from a big-rig truck. Faulkner County spokesman Stephan Hawks said the Talleys climbed into the trailer rather than endure the storm in their car. The trailer was blown into a pond, where their bodies were found.
Another victim was Charles Mitchell, 55, who died in his mobile home. A 63-year-old man who lived in another mobile home also died, and Hawks said his name would be released after relatives are notified.
Gov. Mike Beebe toured the rural community of 3,800 with emergency officials Tuesday morning and talked with storm survivors as they cleared debris from their homes.
“These folks have faced some terrible losses and I’m surprised there aren’t more fatalities, based upon looking at some of the damage,” Beebe said.
Beebe credited the survivals on an early tornado-warning system, “luck” and “just the good Lord watching over.”
The tornado battered most of the homes in the Quail Hollow subdivision of Vilonia, leaving many without a roof. A wooden fence could be seen sticking out of the top one house.
In northwest Arkansas, two men apparently drowned in Bentonville after the small pickup truck they were in was swamped by a swollen creek, likely the night before, Benton County Coroner Daniel Oxford said. He didn’t name the men because their relatives hadn’t yet been notified.
Three other people died in the flooding elsewhere in northwest Arkansas, authorities said.
Another man also died in central Arkansas’ Perry County, Sheriff Scott Montgomery said.
Authorities found the body of 52-year-old Larry Mitchell on Tuesday afternoon east of Casa, he said. Mitchell was driving poultry feed to chicken houses when he came across a log in the middle of the road, Montgomery said. Mitchell radioed to his co-workers that he was going out to remove it, but they never heard back from him.