A violent tornado tearing through Arkansas on Saturday injured six people and left major damage to a local shopping mall and airport.
Severe damage occurred at the Mall at Turtle Creek in Jonesboro, however, most stores were reportedly closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. A Best Buy store was left nearly unrecognizable.
Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley said:
“At 5 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon that place would’ve been packed, and at this point, there was hardly anyone in there,”
“It’s a blessing in disguise.”
Presley reported that just about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock, those that were injured in the college city of roughly 75,000 people were brought to the hospital with minor injuries. Reports said The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning around 4:47 p.m. local time and the twister touched down just after 5 p.m.
Pictures of a destroyed hangar and a graveyard of planes were also captured at the Jonesboro Municipal Airport. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., described the destructive effects of the twister and called for support for the community.
“In the midst of everything, a tornado just went through the heart of town,”
“None of my staff have been hurt and my family is okay. Unsure of others – please pray for first responders now being dispatched.”
KAIT-TV in Jonesboro featured the extensive damage to some of the city’s businesses via live stream. Arkansas State University reported on Twitter that its campus wasn’t damaged.
Authorities said power was out in sections of the city and some of the wreckage tossed by the tornado was seen blocking roads. Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin immediately issued a 7 p.m. curfew, and authorities asked people not to roam around.
Unfortunately, the home of Dr. Jared Burks, who has been living apart from his wife Alyssa and their son Zeke in Northeast Arkansas while he treats patients with COVID-19 was destroyed completely. All three family members were safe.
Forecasters with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., warned that a severe weather outbreak was possible later Saturday for much of the central U.S.