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High winds damaged homes and nearly destroyed a regional airport in east Arkansas early Sunday, officials said.

According to a preliminary survey by the National Weather Service in Memphis, straight-line thunderstorm winds reached up to 100 mph in St. Francis County, the speed of an EF-1 tornado.

The storm, which the agency said hit between 11 p.m. Saturday and 1 a.m. Sunday, devastated the Delta Regional Airport's business building and its 12 hangars, damaging about 10 private airplanes beyond repair, airport board member John Kerr said. A terminal building under construction was not hit, he said.

The airport near Colt opened in May 2015, and officials hope to rebuild, he said.

"We're kind of sad, obviously," Kerr said. "We're just thankful no one was injured."

Dan Noble, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, said the agency received reports from both St. Francis and Cross counties of trees and power lines knocked down. Local leaders declared a state of emergency in St. Francis County, where multiple motor homes at a park along Arkansas 1 were damaged and a house was struck by lightning and caught on fire, Noble said.

The Red Cross in Arkansas said Sunday that officials from the agency were responding to St. Francis County to assess the damage and provide casework for residents.

Glenn South, director at the Cross County Office of Emergency Management, said about three homes in that county had moderate damage, and two or three more had minor damage.

"We got lucky," he said.

No injuries were reported in either county. The storm also knocked down trees and power lines in Craighead, Greene, Lawrence, Lee and Poinsett counties.

According to Entergy Arkansas, more than 3,500 customers in St. Francis County were without power as of Sunday afternoon, and nearly 420 were without power in Cross County. Power was expected to be restored for most by midnight, the utility said.

Metro on 06/04/2018

Print Headline: Storm inflicts heavy damage to St. Francis County airport, officials say

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