Ark. storms cut a deadly path

Heavy rains, tornadoes kill at least 2 people

BRIAN E. CHILSON/ASSOCIATED PRESS A fire station in East End, Ark., was damaged by a tornado that swept through Friday evening. BRIAN E. CHILSON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A fire station in East End, Ark., was damaged by a tornado that swept through Friday evening. (Brian E. Chilson/Associated Press)
By Andrew DeMillo
Associated Press / May 2, 2010

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SCOTLAND, Ark. — Leveled homes, overturned vehicles, and uprooted trees were scattered across central Arkansas yesterday 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 the western part of the state, said Renee Preslar, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

The woman killed by a tornado was among three people in one of many homes destroyed by the Friday night storms in the small community of Scotland, about 75 miles north of Little Rock, said Sheriff Scott Bradley of Van Buren County. The two others were hurt, but Bradley did not believe their injuries were life-threatening.

“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.

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 yesterday 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.

Forecasters were watching later yesterday for more severe weather, possibly including tornadoes, 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.

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.’’ The storm took off the roof and one wall of the Parent home, and another wall was partly 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.