F-2 Tornado Hits Near Cherry Valley

May 31, 2004 -- Posted at 5:33 p.m. CDT

CHERRY VALLEY -- After a night of storms ripping throughout Region 8, many folks woke up this Memorial Day to calmer skies. Sunday night's storms brought with it rain, lightning, and tornadoes...while most of us didn't have any noticeable damage...some people weren't so lucky.

Penny Newton is thankful to be alive. She and her husband Curtis were at their home off of Highway 42 when the storms got bad.
"We heard pops and breaks, you know and glass breaking and everything. we though, really, that the whole house was going," said Newton.
The National Weather Service reported the storm to be an F-2.
"That puts the wind speed at 115-125 mph. This tornado was on a very narrow path width, say 200 yards wide, less than a half mile long," said NWS Metrologist Jim Duke.
That's the description of the tornado that hit last night.
"It's something that you're not going to forget right away, so I don't want to be this close to another one," said Newton.

Those who were close to the twister Sunday night were lucky. The storm damaged two homes, but destroyed farmer Mike Wood's office and grain bins. Wood wasn't here Sunday night because he's also the mayor of Cherry Valley--he was busy blowing the town's tornado siren.

"My farm office was demolished and I had all my records in that, so that was a loss, but thankfully, nobody was hurt," said Wood as he helped clear his property of the damage.

Wood says a few years ago a tornado came through Cherry Valley and took out a shop that stood right where his office is. Now, he's not sure he'll try his luck a third time and says he plans to rebuild somewhere else. Friends, family and neighbors all pitched in today to help clean up the damage.

Keith Thomas said, "A lot of good friends and neighbors got here at 6:30 or 7 o'clock and started and they've just about got our stuff cleaned up."
"Everybody's been really nice, pitching in and helping, so that's what it's all about, helping your neighbor," said Wood.
But the survivors say their thankful to be alive.
"You just don't realize, you think that you have a little bit time, you know, and it's like you don't have anytime at all, it's just there, it happens that quick," said Newton.
"We're lucky, really, nobody hurt and that's all that matters," said Thomas.

There was only one confirmed tornado in Arkansas Sunday. However, across the United States there were 86 confirmed tornados, primarily in the Midwest, making this weekend's storms one of the top ten outbreaks in US history.