Thousands still without power in Region 8

MONETTE, AR (KAIT) – Thousands of homes were without power for most of the night Monday, and more homes could be in the dark until Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning. According to Paul Brewster with Entergy Arkansas, an estimated 6,000 residents were without power early Monday night; however, he expected that number to be trimmed to roughly 1,500 by Tuesday morning. He said power crews have been working since a storm system blew through Greene, Craighead and Mississippi Counties early Monday afternoon. Some residents told Region 8 News winds were in excess of 70 miles an hour.

Monette Police Chief Brian Carmichael told Region 8 News an Emergency Curfew has been implemented until the power is restored in the city.

"The gust of wind came up and hit the driver from the side and flipped the truck over," said Jeff Spencer, owner of Spencer Trucking Company in Lake City.

Spencer said one of his drivers was injured when his empty 18-wheeler was blown off Highway 18 east of Black Oak. The driver escaped with minor injuries.

"He was just driving down the road. He was trying to get up to where he could get off the highway where it would be safe, and before he could get up here to get off the side of the highway, the wind grabbed the truck and trailer and flipped it," said Spencer, who has been in his driver's situation before. "It's a very scary experience. Especially if there's cars and stuff around because you don't know where that thing is going to land."

Arkansas State Police shut down the highway to one lane until the truck was pulled from the ditch. Spencer estimated the damage of the truck to touch at least $30,000.

"It was empty. If he would have been loaded, he would have been alright. With the light weight of the truck and trailer and the size of it, when the wind hits it, it just flips them around."

Multiple severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings were issued Monday afternoon, as a large storm system traveled south before moving east across the Mississippi River. Officials with the National Weather Service will survey the damage Tuesday to determine if a tornado touched down.

Employees of Monette Truck and Diesel said straight line winds partially damaged their roof and a side wall.

"Winds came through, lifted the edge of the shop up, lifted them up, kept slamming it back down and then it picked up the roof, threw it into the field right here beside the shop," said Blake Sparkman.

Sparkman said he believed the winds were blowing in excess of 70 miles an hour. He said after the roof was lifted, rain began to pour inside the shop.

"I've seen some damage up town. Power lines down, trees on top of houses and stuff like that. I've seen a couple of windows busted out of the John Deere place up town," said Sparkman.

Several homes in Monette sustained roof damage and tree damage. Carmichael said the damage is more extensive east of Highway 18 toward Manila.

"We're not the only ones out here. Our neighbors on both sides and into Monette, there's a lot of damage," said Buddy Hebert, owner of Gregg Funeral Home. "The roof had blown off of our Monette facility and we came over here and it was much worse than we understood."

The Gregg Funeral Home was on the receiving end of roof and water damage. After the tin roof was pulled off, rain seeped through the walls.

"I guess what made a lot of damage too with the wind is that it took these large wind turbines we have on top of the funeral home, it just pulled them off to where the water rushed in from the rain," said Hebert. "It's really bad. The water just got into the insulation, the ceiling, the lights and the floor and destroyed the carpet. We have a lot of damage and it'll take us a while to get it all fixed back up."

As of this report, no one has been injured.

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