June 6, 2012 Edition

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Terry Boothe of Walnut Ridge (on small ladder) looks up at some of the damage caused to his home when a large tree fell in his backyard during Sunday night's storms.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt

Strong winds, hail leave
mark in Lawrence County

Harold Foley of Smithville shows one of the larger pieces of hail that fell in the Smithville area on Sunday night. Behind him is a plum tree that was pummeled by the storm.
Submitted Photo ~ Marla Helms
Gretchen Hunt

A storm system that swept through Lawrence County Sunday night left damage in its wake throughout the county.

Sheriff Jody Dotson said there were a lot of reports of trees and power lines down in the county, as well as some metal buildings and carports that were blown down.

There were reports of a tornado on the ground near Egypt, though unconfirmed by the National Weather Service, and damage along Evergreen Road near Walnut Ridge showed signs of high winds, if not winds with rotation.

Terry and Vickie Boothe were at home when they heard something slam up against the side of their house.

"I figure it was a stick or something," Vickie said.

She said she got up to look out a small window in her living room.

"When I put my hands on the wall, I could feel the wall moving," she said. "I turned and said 'Terry,' and he said 'we better get in the hall.'"

The next thing they heard was the sound of a large tree in their backyard shattering and falling across the house, directly over where they had just been sitting.

In addition to knocking several holes in the roof of the home, the tree also flattened an outbuilding located behind the home.

"We are fortunate that it split and the full weight of the tree didn't come down on the house," Vickie said.

Reports have come in of structural damage in several other locations, including Doug Wayland's farm shop on Highway 412, east of Walnut Ridge, and the American Agviation building, located in the Walnut Ridge Industrial Park.

Walnut Ridge Mayor Don House said in addition to the damage sustained by American Agviation, which is owned by Frank Kelley, there was approximately $10,000 in damage in and around the industrial park and airport area.

House said he had heard reports of a funnel cloud sighting near V&B Manufacturing, as well.

Stewart Park also saw some damage with a roof blown off a ball field dugout and damage to fencing.

In Smithville, the most damaging part of the storm was the hail. Reports came in of anywhere from quarter- to softball-sized hail.

Many suffered damage to their vehicles, including Dr. Roger Helms, who was on his way home from church with his son, Aaron, when the hail began to fall, cracking his windshield and putting dents in his truck.

The Helms' neighbor, Harold Foley, said the hail covered the ground at his home, including some stones that were as big as an egg. He said that he was fortunate that his vehicle was parked under a carport, but many, including his brother, Jerry, were not so lucky.

"His truck and his wife's car were both beat up," Foley said.

No injuries were reported from the storm.

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