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Ark. tornadoes kill woman; drowning also reported

SCOTLAND, Ark. (AP) - Leveled homes, overturned vehicles and
uprooted trees were scattered across central Arkansas on Saturday
after several tornadoes ripped through the state, killing a woman
and injuring two dozen others, authorities said.
At least one person drowned after heavy rain fell in western
Arkansas, said Renee Preslar, spokeswoman for the Arkansas
Department of Emergency Management.
The woman killed by a tornado was among three people in one of
several homes destroyed by the Friday night storms in the small
community of Scotland, about 75 miles north of Little Rock, said
Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Bradley. The two other people inside
the house were hurt, and one remained hospitalized Saturday, the
county's emergency management coordinator said. The person's
condition hasn't been released.
A large pig rooted through debris of a fallen home and
demolished hog pen in Scotland on Saturday morning, while chain
saws buzzed nearby as fallen trees were cleared from roadways.
"It will never look the same here again, but our people help
each other out," Bradley said. "We'll get through this."
Ronnie Lindsey, 44, sifted through the rubble of the trailer
that he shared with his brother. Lindsey was in Mayflower when the
storm hit, and he said his brother, a paraplegic, sought safety in
a nearby storm shelter. The storm destroyed their trailer,
littering nearby fields with debris, but it spared the five pigs
they had been raising. One, named Bacon, wandered through the
wreckage Saturday morning.
Lindsey said he didn't know what the brothers would do next.
"There ain't insurance here, and who can afford it?" he said.
Severe damage was reported in broad swaths from near the
Missouri border to the north to Saline County about 20 miles south
of Little Rock, said Brian Smith, a meteorologist with the National
Weather Service in Little Rock. But officials were working Saturday
to determine exactly how many twisters hit.
"There appear to be at least a half-dozen tracks, but in some
cases there may have been one long track," Smith said. "We're out
there trying to determine exactly what happened."
Bob Parent, a high school teacher and bus driver, said he and
his wife, Kathy, were sitting in the living room of their home in
Scotland on Friday night when the power went out and they heard the
tornado approaching.
"We barely got inside the doorway of the kitchen when it hit,"
Parent said. "We hunkered down on the floor. I covered her up and
the house went away around us."
The storm took off the roof and one wall of Parent's home, and
another wall was partially caved in.
High water swept a car off a low-water bridge about 9 p.m.
Friday in Scott County, south of Fort Smith on the Oklahoma line,
and the driver drowned after getting out of the vehicle and being
swept away, Preslar said.
More storms, including tornadoes, could hit the state Saturday,
Smith said. He cited lingering warm, moist air and instability
expected to persist into the evening. Flash flooding also was a
threat, mainly in eastern Arkansas.
About two dozen people were injured across the affected
counties, Preslar said.
Bradley, the sheriff, said he believed everyone had been
accounted for in Scotland, where about 50 National Guard troops
were deployed to assist local authorities.
Arkansas National Guard spokesman Capt. Chris Heathscott said in
a statement that 50 troops also were mobilized to assist Saline
County's East End community, where about 100 people took shelter at
an elementary school Friday night.
Maria Atwater told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette she brought her
parents to the school from their nearby home.
"My parents were in the storm cellar in the front of the house
right where the trees are down now," Atwater said. "It just
ripped up the yard."
Red Cross disaster teams, which include nurses and mental health
professionals, were in Scotland, East End and other communities
assessing damage and distributing water, food and supplies as
needed, spokeswoman Brigette Williams said.
John Robinson, warning coordinator meteorologist with the NWS in
Little Rock, said a slow-moving front from the west touched off the
severe weather Friday.
"We had spotty thunderstorms here and there, and those are the
ones - the ones that sit out there by themselves - that end up
being tornado producers," he said, noting Arkansas' tornado season
generally peaks in April.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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