- The Washington Times - Friday, April 30, 2010

UPDATED:

SCOTLAND, Ark. (AP) — Leveled homes, overturned vehicles and uprooted trees were scattered across central Arkansas on Saturday after several tornadoes ripped through the state, killing a woman and injuring two dozen others, authorities said.

The woman was among three people in one of many homes destroyed by the Friday night storms in the small community of Scotland, about 75 miles north of Little Rock, said Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Bradley. The two others were hurt, but Bradley did not believe their injuries were life-threatening.

A large pig rooted through debris of a fallen home and demolished hog pen in Scotland on Saturday morning, while chain saws buzzed nearby as fallen trees were cleared from roadways.

“It will never look the same here again, but our people help each other out,” Bradley said. “We’ll get through this.”

Severe damage was reported in swaths from the Oakland area to the north, near the Missouri border, to the East End area about 20 miles south of Little Rock, said meteorologist Brian Smith, with the National Weather Service in Little Rock. But officials were working Saturday to determine exactly how many twisters hit.

“There appear to be at least a half-dozen tracks, but in some cases there may have been one long track,” Smith said. “We’re out there trying to determine exactly what happened.”

Smith also noted more storms, including tornadoes, could hit the state Saturday. He cited lingering warm, moist air and instability expected to persist into the evening.

At least two dozen other people were hurt across Van Buren and several other counties, state Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Renee Preslar said.

Bradley, the sheriff, said he believed everyone had been accounted for in Scotland, where about 50 National Guard troops were deployed to assist local authorities.

Arkansas National Guard spokesman Capt. Chris Heathscott said in a statement that 50 troops also were mobilized to assist Saline County’s East End community, south of Little Rock, where about 100 people took shelter at an elementary school Friday night.

Maria Atwater told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette she brought her parents to the school from their nearby home.

“My parents were in the storm cellar in the front of the house right where the trees are down now,” Atwater said. “It just ripped up the yard.”

John Robinson, warning coordinator meteorologist with the NWS in Little Rock, said a slow-moving front from the west touched off the severe weather Friday.

“We had spotty thunderstorms here and there, and those are the ones — the ones that sit out there by themselves — that end up being tornado producers,” he said, noting Arkansas’ tornado season generally peaks in April.


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