35 Years Ago, The Night of 3 Twisters

Jonesboro (KAIT) 35-years ago Tuesday, Jonesboro residents were picking up what was left of the community, after three tornados ripped through the city, causing 61.5 million dollars in damage.

Unlike the storm of 1968 which killed 35 people, this storm killed only three.

The city had sirens in 1973 but did not in 1968....could that have made the difference in fatalities.

Gene Crisp recalls the night in may when 3 tornados roared through Jonesboro. He and his wife and son hid under a leather recliner for two tornados then headed to their gas station to find transportation. They were out in the open when the third tornado arrived.

The Crisp family has owned the Exxon station at the corner of Highland and Southwest Drive for over 50 years. Standing right next to Jonesboro High School which was totally destroyed . The station structure survived but his 13 rental trailers went missing.

Crisp, "Probably 4 or 5 days after the tornado hit I was out here doing some clean up work and the Corp of Engineers came in with a flat bed trailer with three of our trailers on their flat bed I asked them where they found them they said at Monette."

The other ten never showed up just part of the nearly 62 million dollars in damage the area sustained.

Only three lives were lost perhaps because of a big difference in warning ability.

After the devastating 1968 tornado the city installed these sirens just like the one behind me. 70's technology, it still works but its time to be replaced.

Even with new technology and media access sirens can still play an important part in the warning process.

David Moore, Craighead County OEM, "If that siren goes off the first thing that I would do if I wasn't aware is turn on television, turn on radio if I'm in the car try and find out what is going on."

Moore says everyone needs to have a weather radio if possible and the city is looking to upgrade their sirens but it takes lots of money for new technology.

As for 1973

Crisp, "we didn't hear any sirens, if there were any we didn't hear them."