Twister kills 3 in Ark. town
MENA, Ark. – A twister took a “direct hit” Thursday evening on an Arkansas town, killing three and injuring more than 30 people.
The twister hit Mena shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday after a series of sirens rung throw the town, the New York Times said.
The New York Times reported that trees were ripped up, houses collapsed, roofs were missing, and businesses were destroyed.
“It just looks like a war zone,” Mayor George McKee said.
Thurman Allen, 79, is member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a charitable group in Mena. He told New York Times that the group had just sat down for their twice-monthly meeting at the Masonic lodge when the last siren sounded.
There were 19 people attending the meeting. Before they could take cover, the roof was ripped off.
“I was down on the floor – I just flattened,” Allen said.
One woman was killed by debris during the meeting.
Another resident, Marion Boyt, 76, said he survived by hiding with his son and daughter-in-law in a closet. Boyt said that another resident died after a two-story building collapsed, the New York Times said.
The third body was found in her front yard, county's emergency coordinator James Reeves said. The names of those killed have not been released because families are still being notified.
National guard troops helped this city of 5,700 while working overnight to fix ruptured gas lines, downed power lines, fallen trees and heavily damaged buildings, the New York Times said.
The New York Times reported emergency workers went from door-to-door to check on residents. No missing people were reported.
Prosecutor Tim Williamson said the county jail was “uninhabitable.” Inmates were transferred to nearby counties, the office of County Judge Ray Stanley said.
The violent storm affected nearby cities in Arkansas, Oklahoma and near the Louisiana border, the New York Times said.
The New York Times reported the injured people were taken to the Mena Medical Center for treatment.
Reeves said he had never seen such a powerful storm hit the tornado-prone region, the New York Times said.
“Not in my lifetime,” he told the New York Times. “The last tornado we had to hit the city of Mena was in November 1993. This time we had significant structures (hit).”