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EF1 tornado blamed for Sheridan damage

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published December 20, 2012 at 6:23 a.m. Updated December 20, 2012 at 12:27 p.m.

a-trailer-off-shoemaker-drive-in-sheridan-was-destroyed-by-a-tornado-thursday-morning

A trailer off Shoemaker Drive in Sheridan was destroyed by a tornado Thursday morning.

Sheridan cleaning up after tornado

Sheridan is cleaning up Thursday after a tornado downed numerous trees and damaged some structures, including one trailer that was destroyed. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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Sheridan tornado damage

A tornado downed trees and damaged some structures in Sheridan early Thursday morning.

— Strong storms overnight downed trees across Arkansas, knocking out power for thousands and spawning a tornado in Grant County, authorities said.

The National Weather Service said an EF1 tornado touched down on the west side of Sheridan, where a mobile home and several sheds were damaged or destroyed. Multiple injuries were reported there, though none of them was thought to be serious. EF-1 tornadoes pack winds up to 110 mph.

John Robinson, senior warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North Little Rock, said a storm survey was ongoing Thursday morning in the Sheridan area. But, he said, the team had already determined the damage reflected a "definite tornado" with the EF1 rating.

The most severe damage appeared to be along Shoemaker Drive and County Road 43, where numerous large trees criss-crossed yards and some structures had visible damage. A trailer home in the area was destroyed, with only a handful of interior walls left standing and debris and possessions blown throughout a field surrounding it.

Suellen Waters, 70, lives about a half mile away from the destroyed home on County Road 43 just south of Shoemaker. She was home when the storms rolled through making a "horrible roaring noise."

"I hit the floor and started praying," Waters said Thursday morning outside the home where she has lived for 28 years. "That's all you can do."

The winds stripped the shingles from the roof of Waters' home, overturned a camper and tore a number of large trees up off the ground, sending one onto a carport, where it crushed a pickup and a car.

And the destroyed trailer was her brother's home, she said. Still, Waters said the family felt fortunate to be cleaning up considering they could have been hurt or killed.

"I'm blessed," she said. "I'm alive. Absolutely. And all of my family is alive. My brother lost his home completely, but he's alive."

In Nevada County about six miles east of Prescott, a mobile home was destroyed on County Road 246. Officials said four people were inside, though there was not a preliminary report of injuries.

Elsewhere in Arkansas, numerous communities reported downed trees and power lines. Entergy shortly after 11:40 a.m. Thursday reported more than 41,000 customers without power, and other electric utilities are reporting power failures in the thousands as well. Those numbers could still swell as the storm system ushered in strong winds that will gust up to 40 mph in much of the state.

Other damage reported in the overnight storms included:

  • Damage to homes and a fire station in Riverdale in Sebastian County. A survey team will visit the area Thursday to determine whether a tornado is to blame.
  • Multiple trees down in Scott County, Yell County, Little River County, Pike County, Hempstead County, Garland County, Clark County, Lafayette County, Columbia Couny, Hot Spring County and Arkansas County.
  • A roof damaged in Hagarville in Johnson County
  • Trees down, including at least one on a house, in Sevier County and Union County.
  • Roof or structural damage in Texarkana.

Robinson said his crew would also survey Arkansas and Monroe Counties roughly between Almyra and Blackton. He said there were no reports of damage beyond power failures there, though tornado warnings were issued overnight.

"And there's going to be a lot of places where nobody sees anything until daylight," he said.

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