SHOFFNER/WEINER, AR (KAIT) – Severe storms Friday night into Saturday morning caused major damage in several Region 8 communities. One of the hardest hit areas was in Jackson County, where power was knocked out when strong winds, possibly the result of a tornado, rolled through the small town. According to Jackson County Sheriff David Lucas, the storm damaged a water plant, church, air service and several mobile homes.
"The path of the storm came from the southwest to the northeast and it just came right through this community and caused all this damage that you see," said Lucas.
Lucas said the Arkansas National Guard provided a generator to power the water plant to prevent issuing a boil order.
"The storm came through last night. As you can see we have a lot of trees down. Mt. Zion Church was completely destroyed," said Lucas.
The storm flattened the church. Pews were knocked over like dominoes and the alter reading, "In remembrance of me", was still standing. No one was inside the church at the time of the storm.
Lucas said the storm also damaged the Weldon Flying Service. Heavy winds destroyed an aircraft hangar and one airplane.
"To my knowledge there were two aircraft in there. They have some damage but I'm not sure the extent," said Lucas.
A mobile home was lifted from its foundation, turned on its side and wrapped around a tree.
"Luckily by the grace of God the family was not home when it happened," said Lucas.
After decimating Shoffner, the storm continued northeast. Violent winds and heavy rain consumed the Craighead Farmer's Coop near the Poinsett/Craighead County line near Weiner.
"We got all these coops that we're integrating into our retail system and I woke up this morning to some bad news," said Cam Smith with Jimmy Sanders, Inc.
Smith said fertilizer, seed and chemicals were not harmed during the storm, but several buildings were structurally damaged.
"Right around midnight there were some real high winds, a tornado came through and pretty much wiped out the shop," said Smith. "Our seed house is about to fall in. the seed that's in there now is what's holding the building up so we're going to wait and get some construction crews to help us through that."
Smith said employees have been working since the storm hit to clean up the area, which is visibly different than before the storm rolled in.
"There's some things blown out into this rice field behind us but it's mostly plastic and tin," said Smith. "Fertilizer house, which is behind us, ended up having the roof blown off there and you can see the equipment over there now. We're trying to get that put in trucks and shipped to some of our other locations."