KSLA TV - Arkansas
Super Tuesday Storms Kill 47 In Arkansas, Tennessee
February 6, 2008
Authorities are searching door-to-door today to search for more victims of deadly tornadoes that ripped through much of Arkansas. Storms nationwide killed at least 47 people, including 13 in Arkansas.
Among those killed were Atkins parents who died with their 11-year-old in Atkins, about 60 miles northwest of Little Rock. Pope County Coroner Leonard Krout says the family died from trauma when the storm their home "took a direct hit."
the state Department of Emergency Management says that in addition to the three dead at Atkins, another Pope County resident was killed. Van Buren Sheriff's Office jailer Chad Mason says three people were killed in Clinton. Two deaths were reported in Conway and Izard counties and one each in Baxter and Stone counties.
Searchers combed through damaged buildings in Atkins in Pope County and in Clinton in Van Buren County to look for more victims of the storm.
Mason says the view heading into Clinton from U.S. 65 used to be a tree line. Now he says motorists can see across the valley.
Seavia Dixon's home at Atkins was reduced to a slab. She stood nearby this morning, holding muddy baby pictures of her son, who is now a 20-year-old soldier in Iraq. The Dixon family's brand new white pickup truck was upside-down, about 150 yards from where it was parked before the storm. Another pickup truck the family owned sat crumpled about 50 feet from the slab.
Dixon said she and her husband Clay left about 10 minutes before the tornado struck, hiding in a family member's basement. She says the family can replace material things, and that they're lucky to have survived.
About 100 volunteers fanned out in Atkins and the surrounding area on this morning. Searchers left in pickup trucks, police cruisers and Army National Guard Humvees.
The searchers used bright orange spray paint to mark homes they'd covered. They used a system of hash marks to indicate damage, any victims found and any hazards, such as leaking natural gas.
Sleet that was falling earlier at Atkins had shifted to light snow as the sun rose. Before the storms hit, temperatures were in the 70s. The contrast explained the violent weather that hammered the region for the second time in a month. A man at Appleton died in a tornado January 8th.
A total of about 24,500 electric customers were without power this morning in Arkansas. Power was out to more than 65,000 homes yesterday.
Entergy spokesman James Thompson said crews are running into more damage and the pace is slowing for getting power back to homes. He said Arkansas' largest electric utility has summoned 350 workers from other states to help.
The greatest number of remaining outages, 8,000, are in the Batesville area. Little Rock had 4,000 out. Another 2,400 were out in the Harrison area and 2,200 in and around Russellville. Thompson says there were numerous areas with scattered outages that are taking time for crews to reach.
Governor Mike Beebe arrived in Atkins about 9 a.m. today and said President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff have called his office to ask what assistance the state needs. Beebe said the calls came through when he was flying to Clinton and had not yet been able to respond.
Senator Mark Pryor issued a statement saying he would do all he could to ensure the Federal Emergency Management Agency would help victims. He also said he told FEMA Director David Paulison that he would -- quote -- "not tolerate a slow reaction time."
FEMA must not use bureaucratic excuses to avoid helping Arkansans," Pryor said.
The outbreak was the second of the winter. On January 8th, tornadoes were reported in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Two also died in the Missouri storms.
In Tuesday's storms, the victims included 24 people in Tennessee, 13 in Arkansas, seven in Kentucky and three in Alabama.