Marmaduke Police Chief Remembers Tornado of One Year Ago

MARMADUKE, AR - The memories of Marmaduke Police Chief Steve Franks are still vivid, a year after a tornado struck the small town in Greene County on Sunday, April 2, 2006.

Franks recalls that he and Sergeant Scott Chambers were headed to Newport as part of a criminal investigation that day, but an ominous weather report led them to turn around.  An announcer said it sounded as though the storm was heading right for Marmaduke.

Franks said he was parked outside the high school when the tornado came through.  He says it was like the storm was feeding on the school and becoming stronger.  He drove to City Hall, where he said it was like the building was breathing because the walls were moving in and out as the storm passed.

The storm was classified as an F-3 on the Fujita scale from 0 to 5, with winds of 158 miles-per-hour or greater.  The tornado badly damaged the elementary school, damaged more than 1,000 homes and businesses and damaged the town's most important private employer, American Railcar.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)