Early Morning Storms Cause Havoc in Arkansas Wednesday

November 14, 2006--Posted at 5:30 P.M. CST

ST. FRANCIS COUNTY, AR--Early morning winds equaled long delays on a major Region 8 roadway.

Crashes of lightening and booming thunder no doubt awakened many throughout Region 8 early Wednesday morning, but the more severe weather occurred in the southern part of the viewing area.

St. Francis County saw more than two and half inches of rain, however it was a line of winds associated with the storm that closed down a portion of Interstate 40 and made a long day for tow truck drivers.

"Starting at the time of day we did, it will take us till the end of the day," said tow truck operator Tad Bokker.

Bokker and his crew first received a call around 4:30 a.m. of an overturned truck on Interstate 40. It was just the first of at least six, 18 wheelers that were flipped over heading east on the busy roadway.

"Earlier we had two others that flipped over and it only took an hour or two to get those done," said Bokker.

According to one of the drivers, the truck was actually lifted off of the road by the wind and thrown over 15 feet onto the shoulder of the road.

"Well with this particular one right here, the roof has been torn out. It turned over and slid on its side hitting a concrete culvert and busted the roof out. Therefore, we are splitting the load, so it will take several hours to move this one," said Bokker.

The driver of that truck was lucky, he walked away.  However, the drivers of four other overturned trucks were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The straight line winds were also responsible for damage along I-40 from Wheatley to Forrest City including the local Dollar General.

"We had some wind damage at the Dollar General Store and at Wheatley there were some problems there," said St. Francis County Sheriff R.N. Green.

In Wheatley, straight line winds were responsible for tearing the roof off a farm building, blowing through a set of garage doors and destroying a number of signs around town.

The result of Wednesday's storm weren't all together negative. Students at Forrest City Junior High enjoyed a much deserved day off because the power was also knocked off by the high winds.