White County towns start clean up efforts after tornado

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

WHITE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Several homes were damaged in White County Tuesday night as a strong storm moved through Region 8.

The National Weather Service has confirmed it was an EF-1 tornado that hit the town of Higginson and an EF-2 hit Kensett.

County officials said 40 homes were damaged in that town, with four being destroyed.

As the community began to pick up the pieces Wednesday morning, the main thing people said was they are thankful everybody survived.

Elizabeth Fiddler's 83-year-old grandma was at home when the storm hit.

"She was just beside herself," Fiddler said.

Several trees on the woman's property broke off, one crashing through the roof of her dining room.

The winds were so strong that a car in the driveway tipped over on its side.

"It was shaking, walls rattling, everything moving, of course," Fiddler said. "It was just, she said it was total chaos."

Fiddler said she took seeing the destruction hard.

"I just sat down and cried," she said. "We did not have a clue what the devastation was until this morning. I just looked at it and I couldn't believe it."

Although her family lost a childhood home, Fiddler said the most important thing was her grandmother's safety.

"Lost a lot of stuff in there, but you know, at least my grandmother is fine and she'll be okay and we'll live on," she said.

The man next door to Fiddler's grandma had to be pulled out of his home when a tree fell on it.

He said the ordeal was terrifying and he is glad to have made it out.

The town could be seen coming together early Wednesday morning. A local building company was passing out tarps to houses with roof damage while one neighbor went door-to-door handing out breakfast since the power was still out.

And everyone with a chainsaw was out cutting up the downed trees.

In nearby Kensett, 10 homes were damaged as the tornado passed through. Two of those houses are destroyed.

In one man's yard, a pile of rubble could be seen. What you couldn't easily see was a truck underneath, where a man was when the storm hit.

"He went out, we heard a big boom, and we got worried about him," Richard Thompson said. "Then all of a sudden he comes staggering in the house. He had a cut over his eye, holding his wrist because it was hurt, it was broke."

Thompson said his friend, Russel, was at his house when it began to rain.

Russel went to roll his truck windows up when the house fell on top of him.

Somehow, he wasn't seriously hurt.

"We just, we're blessed," Thompson said.

A few streets away, not much is left of a trailer.

Strong winds blew it from its original spot, across a ditch, and wrapped it around a tree.

Family members said the woman inside went to a hospital with some broken bones but is expected to be okay.

Thompson said his community was also offering assistance to anyone in need.

"Everybody came by here and stopped and asked could they help," he said.

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