On April 28, 2014 a massive tornado slammed the state of Arkansas. Mayflower and Vilonia were among the cities badly damaged. At least 16 people were reported dead as of early Monday morning and raised to 18 on the later part of the day. Among the dead were eight adults and two children in Faulkner County, five people in Pulaski County and one in White County. Most of the dead were killed in their homes.The death toll is expected to rise as the search for survivors is still ongoing.
The tornado that hit Arkansas tossed and toppled large trucks like toys. Sedans, pickup trucks and even an intermediate school worth $14 million that was set to open this fall were damaged. Houses are unrecognizable as only debris is seen scattered about.
"This storm was much stronger. The devastation was just tremendous," Vilonia Mayor James Firestone told ABC's "Good Morning America" early Monday.
Brandon Morris, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, said that as of now the primary focus is life safety and making sure that everyone is accounted for. Morris added that officials are also looking into the environmental impact of the tornado, by checking that electrical supply is cut for the mean time to avoid any fire or further deaths. Crews of the Emergency Management Department are continuously sifting through the rubble in hopes of finding survivors and to assess the damage brought on by the tornado.
Currently, there is no accurate headcount of injured people as safety of the survivors was prioritized.
"We don't have a count on injuries or missing. We're trying to get a handle on the missing part," Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said.
However nearby Conway Regional Medical Center said it has treated about 100 people injured from the storm. A medical triage area has also been opened in a parking lot of a Mayflower home-improvement store to treat injured people. Likewise, two emergency shelters have been opened by the American Red Cross to help those residents displaced by the tornado.
There is no storm rating released yet for the tornado that hit Mayflower and Vilonia. However, National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Hood said that it would likely be rated as the strongest to date this year. The tornado has a potential to be at least an EF3 storm with winds greater than 136 mph. According to the Associated Press, The United States had not had a tornado rated EF3 or higher since Nov. 17, 2013.
#ArkansaStrong is now trending in Twitter as people offered their prayers and support for the victims of the deadly tornado.
— Adam Rappold (@rappadam18) April 29, 2014
— Sidney Dennis (@DenniSidney) April 28, 2014
Below are videos capturing the devastations brought on by the tornado that hit Arkansas . Survivors recount the ordeal of tornado.