BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – The tornado in Batesville has been rated EF1, meaning it had the potential for 86–110 mph winds, it was 75 yards wide and traveled a 3.3 mile track.
Viewers in Batesville sent Region 8 News videos of the tornado. At least two people suffered minor injuries from the tornado that hit around 3 p.m.
In the video, objects that appear to be transformers explode.
Tony King saw the tornado form behind a wooded area across the street from Southern Tire Mart where he works. "You could see the debris flying up, the leaves and the limbs flying up, and then once it got to the tree line, the tornado went back up and it crossed the road."
He said once the tornado seemed to be moving from behind the trees and across the street to Southern Tire Mart, he and other employees moved seven customers to safety.
"I've got a safe room in there. I just went through the building and started getting everybody I could," he said.
What witnesses described as a slow moving funnel moved along North St. Louis Street, ripping a restaurant sign apart and damaging the Comfort Suites hotel roof.
The tornado also hit Stars Academy daycare on General Street.
"Just probably a few minutes after we got to entering the building, we just heard something go over and the ceiling tiles sucked up just a little bit. It wasn't anything major. It was really calm," said daycare director Mary-Katherine Hardin. "We were actually really surprised to see the outside when everything calmed down."
While 129 children and 55 employees were in a safe area inside the building, a mom and her child got trapped in a car in the parking lot of the daycare.
According to Independence County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Glen Willis, the other and her nine-year-old child were hurt when a car landed on top of the car they were inside.
"We practice this once a month. We do drills and that's why we do it. Yesterday we had the dry run from the straight line winds so it was fresh in our minds from yesterday. God was just watching over us today," Hardin said.
The tornado mainly damaged the playground but the building interior was intact, Hardin said.
She plans to open the daycare Tuesday or Wednesday.