Clean-up Begins After Storms Slam Small Town - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Woodruff County
Melissa Simas Reports

Clean-up Begins After Storms Slam Small Town

Just one of the buildings damaged in Woodruff COunty during Sunday night's severe weather outbreak. (KAIT/L.Gunter) Just one of the buildings damaged in Woodruff COunty during Sunday night's severe weather outbreak. (KAIT/L.Gunter)
The Stars & Stripes flies from a flagpole in downtown Patterson. Strong winds from a tornado bent the flagpole over. (KAIT/L.Gunter) The Stars & Stripes flies from a flagpole in downtown Patterson. Strong winds from a tornado bent the flagpole over. (KAIT/L.Gunter)

May 5, 2003
Posted at: 8:02 p.m. CDT

PATTERSON, Ark. -- Monday was a day of clean-up for parts of Region 8 after an outbreak of severe weather rolled through the area Sunday night.

High winds and tornadoes ripped through parts of Northeast Arkansas, destroying several homes, overturning tractor-trailer rigs, tearing off roofs and downing trees and power lines. Most of the storms, however, struck in relatively sparsely populated rural areas and no deaths or serious injuries were reported.

In the small Woodruff County town of Patterson, if you can believe it, spirits are running high. Many of the population of just over 400 went on with business as usual. Many enjoyed their lunch hour, knowing that after Sunday night, all they can do now is start over.

For Dwight Meredith, sweeping-up after a major storm is just one part of the road to recovery for any community. At Farmers Liquid Fertilizer, Inc., where Meredith works, that chore began Sunday night.

"The roof is gone," Meredith said. "So we still got a lot of work to do. These guys have been here all night just working like Trojans this morning."

Like Meredith's business, much of the town of Patterson was knocked down by Sunday's tornado. No one was seriously injured. But some residents of the county nursing home were shaken up by winds that just narrowly missed them, and took away their power.

"We hooked them up to a generator so they got power through there," said nursing home worker Nina Moon. "The relief came last night when I found out everyone was fine and no one was hurt."

Meanwhile, in the center of town, other buildings weren't as fortunate.

"This is bad, but we can always replace buildings," Robert Broughton of the Patterson Fire Department said. "As long as we didn't lose people we're all right."

The phones still rang at the City Hall building in Patterson, even though a Tornado completely destroyed the building. Books are on their sides, and glass is everywhere on the floor. But the plan is that business will continue to run, even though the building is a disaster.

Patterson had not had a tornado in over 20 years prior to Sunday. Officials say that the city was prepared, however, warning sirens did go off.

As for how storm damage is going to affect the town economically, it is too soon to tell. All of the town's meetings that are scheduled will be held in the post office. It was not touched at all by the storm, despite being right next to city hall.

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