Family stays safe in cellar; daughter loses home

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published May 1, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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Eilish Palmer/Contributing Photographer

Law enforcement officers and volunteers, such as these in Vilonia, looked through the rubble after Sunday night’s tornado that killed eight people and hospitalized at least nine others in the community, one of whom was in critical condition at press time.

VILONIA — Carolyn Frazier of Vilonia spent part of Sunday night in the cellar, along with a dozen or more of her friends and family, including her husband, Tommy.

“We were in the cellar just like last time,” Carolyn Frazier said, referring to the 2011 tornado that ripped through the Quail Hollow subdivision. Although the Fraziers received minimal damage three years ago, many homes in their neighborhood received major damage. This time, there was no damage in their neighborhood. She said they never lost power during Sunday’s storm.

“We always go to my elderly aunt’s house in downtown Vilonia, get her and get into the cellar,” Frazier said. “It was just like last time. We heard the rain, then the tornado with all the debris, as it got closer. Then all of a sudden, it was dead still. And then came the train sound.

“It was bad. Two of the young men with us in the cellar had to hold the door so it wouldn’t blow open. There we were: 12 to 15 people, three dogs and a baby. It didn’t last long; [we were in the cellar] maybe 20 minutes.”

Frazier said the tornado hit “about a half mile, as the crow flies,” from their home. “It hit Wells Road,” she said. “All of the houses there are flattened, including our daughter Angela’s home. She was not at home.” Frazier added, “The new [intermediate] school that was built [in the area] and ready to move into in the fall is a total loss.”

Frazier said her daughter and boyfriend had gone to North Little Rock for dinner.

“[Sunday] at lunch, we warned Angela and told her to be attentive to the weather,” Frazier said. “Her boyfriend had never been through a tornado and did not seem real concerned.

“But he said Angela was very insistent that they go out to dinner. He wanted to go to Harps and get something and cook it at home, but she insisted they go out.

“Later, he said, ‘If I had not listened to her, we wouldn’t be here. We would be dead because we would have been sitting there eating at the house when [the tornado] hit.’

“It’s a total loss,” Frazier said of Angela’s home.

Carolyn Frazier said the police closed down the center of town Monday for search and rescue.

“They’ve brought in cadaver dogs,” she said. “They’re looking for more bodies.

“They won’t let anybody in on Highway 64. They check our IDs to make sure we live in Vilonia. That’s to keep out the looters and the sightseers.”

Frazier said the bypass around Vilonia is open.

“The tornado crossed the bypass,” she said. “You can see a lot of the devastation if you drive the bypass.”

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