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Cleanup begins at Arkansas resort hit by tornado

By Jaime Dunaway

This article was originally published March 14, 2016 at 10:45 a.m. Updated March 14, 2016 at 3:10 p.m.


Storm damage at Mountain Harbor Resort in Montgomery County.

Docks I and J at the Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa were on of several docks damaged in a tornado that touched down Sunday, March 13, 2016 in Mount Id...

Guests planning to visit the Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa are asked not to come as cleanup crews work to repair wreckage from an EF1 tornado that touched down just before 5 p.m. Sunday, causing damage to some docks and condominiums, the president and CEO said Monday.

The National Weather Service confirmed that the tornado, with wind speeds between 86 and 110 mph, caused the damage as it traveled about 1.7 miles into the Lake Ouachita area.

Power lines are down on major roads leading to the resort, located a half hour west of Hot Springs on Lake Ouachita, causing power outages across the complex. Main buildings, such as the lodge and marina, have been running on backup generators since the storm.

If guests do come Monday, they are asked to wait until 1 p.m. so as not to impede Entergy employees, who are working to restore power and remove downed poles and wires, CEO Bill Barnes said.

Barnes said three condominiums and four homes were damaged by fallen tree limbs, but the extent of the damage is still unknown.

In addition, six of the marina's 47 docks sustained damage, and three docks, two of which were house boat docks, were damaged extensively, he said. Resort officials have restricted access to all docks because of structural integrity concerns.

Cleanup crews were working throughout the area Monday morning removing debris from the lake and assessing more dock damage.

"The fact that we’re able to work in 75 degrees and sunshine instead of blowing wind and pouring rain will greatly affect our ability to do things," Barnes said. "It could be a lot worse."

During the storm, residents at the resort were advised to take shelter in bathrooms or basements. When the weather cleared, volunteer fire departments, the county judge, the sheriff, Entergy crews, resort staff members and other volunteers worked until midnight on a preliminary assessment of the damage.

"Nobody got a lot of sleep last night, but that's a testament to the volunteer spirit of Arkansans," Barnes said. "It's a wonderful cooperation. That’s our people, and that’s our state."

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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