April 28, 2010 Edition

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Friday evening's storm system blew a roof off an open-air equipment building and across a field at the farm of Larry Jones (above) in Minturn. Jones said he used a backhoe to push the roof off State Hwy. 228, that runs between Minturn and Clover Bend. The storm system damaged several farm equipment buildings and other structures in eastern Lawrence County.
TD Photo ~ John Bland

Storm leaves damage
in eastern LawCo.

Gretchen Hunt

Northeast Arkansas was hit by heavy rains and strong winds on Friday evening, causing flooding throughout the county and extensive damage in eastern Lawrence County.

The storm system, which moved into the area around 6 p.m., had winds measuring between 75 and 85 miles per hour according to Marlene Mickelson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis.

These reported wind speeds account for the warping of a flagpole at the Wings of Honor Museum, near the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport. The pole was rated to withstand 80-plus mile-per-hour winds.

While several residents reported seeing funnel clouds in the area, NWS personnel who visited Lawrence County on Sunday said the damage was indicative of straight-line winds.

"It is possible that there were funnel clouds in the air, and there were undoubtedly ominous clouds," Mickelson said. "We did not see markers for a tornado having touched down."

The county was under a tornado warning after rotation was observed in the storm system by the NWS, and sirens were sounded in both Walnut Ridge and Hoxie.

Walnut Ridge Fire Chief Alan Haskins said the damage was extensive and the path of the storm was obvious. Uprooted trees and downed power poles were reported from the Minturn, Clover Bend and Alicia areas northward to College City.

Road closures and power outages were prevalent following the storm. Some residents remained without power until Saturday due to a transmission line being down on County Road 410, off Highway 67 North, across from the Walnut Ridge Industrial Park.

Damage, ranging from downed limbs to destroyed buildings, was extensive. Among the reports of damage received by The Times Dispatch are:

  • The home of Randy and Kelley Crisler on Lawrence 723 received major damage as the garage and sunroom were destroyed and part of the roof of the home was blown off. Other damage was also reported on the property.

  • The roof of an open-air equipment building on the farm of Larry and Andrew Jones of Minturn was blown off and across a field.

  • Hoxie Supt. Dennis Truxler reported damage to an awning that leads into the kindergarten and first grade wing of the elementary school, as well as the roof off the ticket booth at the football field and the roof off one baseball and one softball dugout. He said several sections of fence and multiple signs received damage and other debris was scattered across campus.

    "I want to thank Robert and Adam Pratt and Allen Freer and several coaches for coming up and working Saturday to prepare the campus for school," Truxler said. "Also, Danny Kopp spent a lot of time Saturday getting wires cut back from the buildings and roadways."

  • Sheet metal from the Morgan Portable Building plant was blown onto Walnut Ridge Regional Airport property, and Runway 13-31 had to be closed while the debris was removed. Some signs at the airport were also damaged.

  • Keith Brand, co-coordinator of the Walnut Ridge Summer Baseball Program, said damage to the ball fields at Stewart Park included the fence surrounding the Little League fields and power poles. He said the pole that holds the field lights for the American Legion field was down.

  • Winds demolished most of the farm shop belonging to Don Mathews, located just off Hwy. 67 North and the main entrance to Williams Baptist College.

  • A large building on the farm of Greg and Gary Gill was heavily damaged. The building is located off Lawrence Road 410, north of Walnut Ridge.

  • A farm shed was demolished behind the home of Rick and Pam Manning on Lawrence Road 410, north of Walnut Ridge. The storm also lifted a large air conditioner unit and turned it on its side next to their home.

  • The campus of Williams Baptist College had large uprooted trees, as well as other downed limbs and minor damage. Trees were also toppled in other areas of College City, Walnut Ridge, Hoxie and elsewhere in the storm's path. A glassed-enclosed pool room collapsed at the home of Janice Manning on East Elm Street in Walnut Ridge.

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