Massive Tornadoes ripped through Little Rock’s suburbs on Sunday, killing 11 people and leaving miles of destruction in their wake. The scene was similar throughout the area. Emergency teams went door-to-door to check for people as well as checking overturned vehicles on a two-mile stretch of Interstate 40 in Arkansas.
Mark Ausbrooks, a local resident spoke to reporters about the extreme weather conditions: “It turned pitch black. I ran and got pillows to put over our heads and… all hell broke loose. My parents’ home, it’s gone completely,” he said.
The tornadoes didn’t come as a complete surprise though, as weather agencies had already prepared residents for the worst. The mayhem started in the morning when the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was delayed.
A tornado killed a person in Quapaw, Okla., before moving into Kansas and causing havoc there. The twister was estimated to be around three blocks wide, according to Cherokee County emergency manager Jason Allison. He reported that it destroyed 60 to 70 private homes and another 20 to 25 businesses in the city.
In Baxter Springs, 25 people were injured and one person was killed when the tornado struck there. Becky Naylor from Mayflower said she and her family took refuge in their cellar where she welcomed other people who needed shelter.
“Everyone is welcome to come into it. In fact, people were pulling off the highways and were just running in,” she said, continuing that, “It sounded like a constant rolling, roaring sound. Trees were really bending and the light poles were actually shaking and moving. That’s before we shut the door and we’ve only shut the door to the storm cellar two times.”
The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Lt. Carl Minden reported that three people had died at a home on the Pulaski/Saline county line about 10 miles west of Little Rock. A number of others were apparently also injured at the scene: “I’m standing on the foundation of the house now. It’s totally gone,” Minden told The Associated Press by phone.
Another Mayflower resident, Jacci Juniel, also spoke to reporters about the ordeal she and her family had gone through at the hands of the tornadoes. She spoke about her desperate attempts to save her mother: “We had to climb over trees and power lines and underneath trees. I was just trying to get home to my mom,” she said.