Deadly storms rolled through the Great Plains and Southern U.S. over the weekend, leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
Violent hail and multiple tornados touched down in parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. The death toll tragically has climbed to 18 this morning.
16 of those deaths occurred in the suburbs of Little Rock, an Arkansas official confirmed. The twister carved an 80-mile path of destruction just north of the state’s capital. One person died in Oklahoma and another in Keokuk County, Iowa.
One tornado that hit Arkansas destroyed a brand new, $14 million school that was set to open this fall. Now, there is nothing left but debris.
Vilonia Schools Superintendent Frank Mitchell explained:
"There's just really nothing there anymore. We're probably going to have to start all over again.”
This breaks our hearts.
Karla Ault, a Vilonia High School volleyball coach, took shelter in the school’s gymnasium as the storm passed. She survived as did her husband but their house was completely destroyed. She said:
"I'm just kind of numb. It's just shock that you lost everything. You don't understand everything you have until you realize that all I've got now is just what I have on.”
Mark Ausbrooks of Mayflower, AR described the terrifying moments leading up to the tornado, saying:
"It turned pitch black. I ran and got pillows to put over our heads and … all hell broke loose.”
Becky Naylor, also of Mayflower, opened her cellar up to strangers who were passing on the highway by her house. She said:
"Everyone is welcome to come into it. In fact, people were pulling off the highways and were just running in. It sounded like a constant rolling, roaring sound. Trees were really bending and the light poles were actually shaking and moving. That's before we shut the door and we've only shut the door to the storm cellar two times.”
Federal relief is expected in these areas. We urge people to help out anyway they can. And to all those who went through this horrible tragedy, our thoughts are with you.
[Image via Twitter.]
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