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Pair had 12 minutes head start on twister

Exited closet found home damaged by Glen Chase, Jeannie Roberts | April 28, 2014 at 5:45 a.m.

MAYFLOWER - When the insulation started raining from the ceiling of the closet where Kay McKneely and her husband, George, had taken cover just minutes before a tornado struck Sunday evening, the couple knew that chances of them - and their home - surviving unscathed were low.

“I was scared,” she said. “We got the red-alert warning and had 12 minutes from the time we got the warning until the storm hit.”

When the couple emerged, they found that the back side of their home had been blown away, but the north side had been left untouched.

The home of her 94-year old mother, Johnnie Gibson, who is wheelchair-bound, was destroyed. Gibson was not injured, however.

At least two people were killed and multiple injuries were reported there after a confirmed tornado ripped through Mayflower about 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Dozens of homes were destroyed. Several had roofs ripped off and whole sides of the structures wiped away.

The Faulkner County sheriff’s office confirmed at least two dead, but did not release any details.

The tornado blew through a mobile home park, killing at least one person there and leveling about six of the homes.

Interstate 40, near Mayflower, was shut down for several hours in both directions after several vehicles crashed. Some were overturned.

The North Little Rock and Maumelle police departments as well as numerous other emergency responders from around the state went to Mayflower to help. A medical triage area was set up in the Lumber 1 parking lot to tend to the injured, and dozens of volunteers and emergency crews were working into the night to clear debris.

Brian Beck, the owner of B&B Construction in Mayflower, said he was on his way to Mayflower to pick up some equipment he needed for this morning when the tornado struck.

Beck said he got a call from an alarm company that services the building that “every alarm in the building had gone off at the same time.”

By the time Beck arrived at the business, the building had been leveled, and construction equipment and vehicles were damaged.

“It was a pile of rubble,” he said.

Front Section, Pages 4 on 04/28/2014

Print Headline: Pair had 12 minutes head start on twister


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