A series of powerful storms that triggered deadly flash floods and destructive tornadoes in several states continued their journey through the South on Thursday. Severe storms swept through the area Thursday, injuring at least four people after a tornado tore off the roof of an apartment building in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as a strong thunderstorm front moved into the region, the National Weather Service said.
The tornado destroyed or damaged several homes and businesses and toppled trees as it moved northeast, according to the National Weather Service. Further northeast, a tornado damaged or destroyed warehouse buildings and destroyed a number of residential and commercial buildings in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Most structural damage was in the Woodson area, where several homes and mobile homes were damaged, according to the National Weather Service. Numerous outbuildings were destroyed and several buildings in Star City were damaged. Of these, about 35 suffered minor and nine major damage; some chicken coops were damaged and numerous outbuildings destroyed. Several homes and a number of businesses in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, including a grocery store, a gas station and a car repair shop, were either destroyed or damaged.
Damage along the tornado was comprised of buildings with tin roofs blown off and carports blown 300 feet into open fields, according to the National Weather Service. The tornado also toppled at least four 18-wheeled vehicles on its way to Lonoke County, as well as a tractor-trailer.
The wild weather forced people in Kansas from their homes, and the severe weather also prompted the evacuation of more than 1,000 people in Texas, Louisiana and Texas. The Mississippi rose, levees became tense and Houston was once again littered with waterlogged roads. Flooding forced at least 2,500 Houston-area residents to evacuate late Tuesday. Hurricane Lake Mobile Home Park swept through the city of Houston, destroying 22 mobile homes and causing nearly $1 million in property damage, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The tornado toppled trees and damaged or destroyed a number of homes and other buildings in Donaldson as it headed northeast. Trees were knocked down as the tornado entered Pulaski County and knocked down several trees in the area before soaring.
The tornado touched down about 5 miles southeast of Benton and moved northeast, damaging a number of homes and toppling numerous trees and power lines. As the tornado approached Highway 270 about 8 miles east of Malvern, the roof of a chicken coop was damaged, narrowly missing a few homes. The tornado mainly caused damage to trees and electricity pylons, but also destroyed a house in the area and several other buildings in Pulaski County.
As the tornado moved northeast, it reached F4 strength and continued to cause damage that eventually moved into the Shannon Hills area of Pulaski County. As it approached the intersection of Highway 65 and Dixon Road, the tornadoes weakened and moved away from the area.
It was only the eighth tornado in Arkansas to reach F2 or EF2 in July. The same thunderstorms that caused the tornado near Arkadelphia and Little Rock led to tornadoes in Lonoke County. In early July, thunderstorms brought tornadoes in Clark and Hot Spring counties and tornadoes in Saline County, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.
The storms were also blamed for a fire that broke out July 5 at Pine Bluff Community College in Little Rock. Twenty to four hours after the fire, the governor announced that he was directing the state agency that oversees the facility to investigate the woman's death. The Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat published articles documenting the damage to the school and other buildings in Pine Bluffs and the deaths of two students after reporting the fires.
Plans are already in place to help residents and business owners of mountain pine trees in the event of excessive water and flood damage in an emergency. Leonard said the organization will provide drinks and snacks to residents while they wait and prepare warm, savory chilli to be brought to the scene. All local businesses are owned and operated by the Pine Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit.
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