HORSESHOE BEND, AR (KAIT) – The town of Horseshoe Bend is still cleaning up two weeks after strong storms blew through the area.
More than 30 homes received some kind of damage during the storm, and neighbors have gotten help recently clearing away debris from an unlikely source.
Severe weather has hit Horseshoe Bend before, but no storm has ever left behind as much damage as it did on April 10.
Marty Roberts is director of the city's public works department, and he and his seven-man crew have stayed busy since then assisting with the cleanup.
They have seen a lot of out-of-town contractors come through the area looking for work, as he expected.
"There was probably a couple thousand [people] in here that day, not only people wanting to see the damage," Roberts said. "There was a lot of people just going door to door trying to get in first and get a job cutting up trees and clearing their lawns and stuff."
As a precaution, Roberts has asked people to hire only those that have acquired a city business license.
"The first thing to ask them is if they have a business license to know that they're a reputable company," he said. "If they don't, then I wouldn't do business with them myself."
Much of the work that's been done recently has come at no cost to any of the homeowners.
That's because the city brought in prisoners from Arkansas Department of Corrections facility in Calico Rock.
The inmates have worked 11 consecutive days in the two hardest hit neighborhoods, where they have raked yards, cut up trees and collected debris like insulation and other building materials.
"[The prisoners] are piling everything out by the street, and then the city's coming around with our trucks and everything picking stuff up," Roberts said. "Some of it, we've got a permit to burn it. The construction debris and stuff, we're going to have to haul to a landfill."
The city is eligible to get reimbursed for some of the cost of hauling away and dumping any debris at the county landfill.
Roberts says it will likely take another three weeks for city crews to collect the debris currently piled near the streets and dispose of it.
This service has not only helped neighbors save money but has also allowed them to move forward with repairs to their homes.
"[The prisoners] worked like they were relatives, you know," John Malek said. "They really worked hard."
Malek lost six trees in his yard during the storm as well as a few shingles - all minor damage compared to the home he's now been hired to rebuild.
His neighbor had several large trees uprooted too, but the wind also ripped off her two-car garage and flung it into the woods behind the house.
Malek has only recently started working to restore the home, a process that will likely last through the summer.
"It's going to be a long process," he said, "but I think they've got the community behind them. I believe it's all going to work out in the long run."
The National Weather Service determined that a tornado did not touch down in Horseshoe Bend, much to many neighbors' disbelief.
Instead, the NWS said the damage came from a severe thunderstorm that may have produced winds up to 100 miles per hour.