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Thousands in dark after severe storms move through

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published April 4, 2014 at 5:17 a.m. Updated April 4, 2014 at 10:25 a.m.


An overnight storm blew down more than a dozen trees around this home across from Camden Fairview HIgh School, including some that hit the structure.

Camden school cleaning up after storm damage

Camden Fairview High School suffered significant damage in a severe storm early Friday morning. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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Camden April 3-4 storm damage

Severe storms that moved through overnight caused significant damage in Camden.

Thousands of Arkansans are without electricity Friday morning after a series of strong storms moved through overnight, taking out power lines, knocking down trees and dropping large hail in different parts of the state.

Entergy Arkansas at 10:20 a.m. reported more than 23,000 customers in the dark, down from more than 41,000 earlier in the day. More than 7,000 of those in Ouachita County and more than 3,000 in Columbia County.

The National Weather Service, meanwhile, took reports of damage in those areas and others. There was no mention of injuries in the preliminary information.

In Camden and Ouachita County, numerous trees were reported knocked down by the storm, including at least one that landed on a vehicle and a home. Trees were also said to be down along U.S. 67 between Fordyce and Hampton in Dallas County, preventing traffic from getting through. Vehicles were reported blown off that highway in the Carthage area.

Rhonda Dunn, a dispatch supervisor in Camden, said "a lot of trees fell on houses," Camden Fairview High School had significant damage and there were widespread power failures, including at the dispatch center. It was up and running on a generator Friday morning and calls were still coming in, many from people wondering when electricity would be restored, Dunn said.

"It might be a while," she said. "They're waiting on daylight so we can get a good estimate on what did actually take place."

At the high school, the winds peeled up sections of the roof and knocked out large portions of the wall of Camden Fairview's athletic stadium. Across the street, more than a dozen large trees were torn out of the ground, including some that landed on a car and against a home.

A National Weather Service survey team was headed to Camden Friday morning to examine the damage. John Robinson, warning coordination meteorologist with the weather service, said officials think the damage in Camden is "thunderstorm wind damage caused by a bow echo and not a tornado," but the survey will help make a final determination.

In Murfreesboro in Pike County, two homes suffered damage and a shed was "completely blown away," according to the weather service reports.

Trees were also reported down across parts of Bradley, Calhoun, Chicot, Drew, Howard, Jefferson, Little River, Montgomery and Sevier counties. A tree was said to have fallen on a car in Hot Springs.

In Big Flat in Baxter County, hail "almost the size of a tennis ball" was reported. Izard and Searcy counties also saw hail that size.

Marty Trexler, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North Little Rock, said survey crews won't necessarily go to every area that had a tornado warning, adding that it's sometimes hard to distinguish between tornado and straight-line-wind damage.

"With such a strong wind storm damage, it will be hard to determine if there was any rotation," he said. "In that I've seen in my career where we go out and it's hard to determine because the winds were so strong and it throws stuff everywhere.


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