JONESBORO, AR (KAIT & AP) – A tornado watch was issued for most of Region 8 around 5:30 in the evening, and shortly after strong storms began rolling through the area. Large hail pounded Newport, Diaz, and other Region 8 cities.
The Clay County Sheriff's Department reported damage along Highway 139 about 4 miles south of Piggott. Clay County Sheriff Gerald McClung said a storage building was destroyed, a camper was blown over and a home suffered some structural damage. A woman and child were home at the time, but no injuries were being reported. McClung told Region 8 News the family retreated to a storm cellar, and when they came up they reported the damage.
Sheila Vaughn knew they were in trouble as straight-line wind, with a severe threshold of at least 60 miles per hour, rattled the windows in the house.
The family took to the storm cellar as the howling wind rolled her brand-new camper onto its side and destroyed her storage shed.
"He opened the door at one point and put the flashlight out, shined it out, and he said "mom, your shop's gone". And I said 'No way.' I looked out and then it really hit us, what we had just gone through."
Sheet metal and insulation were littered nearly a quarter-mile through the middle a field behind Sheila's property.
"We were just talking about how we were definitely going camping this year, we were going to use it. But it doesn't look like it's going to happen now."
Mrs. Vaughn is still in disbelief, but she says that she's just thankful they made it through the storm.
Entergy and other power companies did report scattered small outages throughout the night.
Strong winds and isolated tornadoes are being reported in parts of eastern Arkansas as storms moved across the state. The National Weather Service says it received reports of possible tornadoes in Arkansas, Lonoke, Prairie and Cleveland counties Sunday night. There were no reports of any injuries.
Fordyce may have suffered the worst damage, as the NWS confirmed an EF-2 tornado in that area.