Tornado damage in parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma has left survivors with the task of trying to rebuild after storms barreled through the states over the weekend and left behind devastation.
The storm system cut a wide swath through Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina on Sunday, leaving at least 18 people dead and hundreds more injured. Officials say they fear the death toll will climb as they search through the rubble in areas of Arkansas, where 16 were killed. A death in Quapaw, Oklahoma and the tragic death of an 11-month old baby in North Carolina have also left many communities in mourning.
Sunday was the anniversary of a deadly outbreak of storms across the Midwest and south, a system which spun out 122 tornadoes and killed 316 people across Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia. Sunday’s tornado in Arkansas grew to about half a mile wide and spat hail onto residents; officials say they believe it was at least an EF3 on the damage scale, which includes winds of up to 136 mph.
“We don’t have a count on injuries or missing. We’re trying to get a handle on the missing part,” Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe said on Monday. “Just looking at the damage, this may be one of the strongest we have seen.”
Among the destroyed buildings in the area was a $14 million school that was due to open this fall; now, funds will have to come from somewhere to rebuild.
“There’s just really nothing there anymore. We’re probably going to have to start all over again,” Vilonia Schools Superintendent Frank Mitchell said.
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