UNITED STATES NEWS

Tornado survivors recount flying debris, destroyed buildings

Apr 1, 2023, 2:35 PM

WYNNE, Ark. (AP) — With tornadoes hitting the Midwest and the South this weekend, some survivors said they emerged from their homes to find buildings ripped apart, vehicles tossed around like toys, shattered glass and felled trees.

J.W. Spencer, 88, had never experienced a tornado before, but when he and his wife saw on TV that a tornado was nearing their small town of Wynne, Arkansas, he opened a front window and rear door in his house to relieve air pressure. The couple scurried into the bathroom, where they got into the bathtub and covered themselves with quilts and blankets for protection.

Fifteen minutes later, the storm unleashed its fury. Debris came whistling through the house.

“We just rode it out,” Spencer said on Saturday. “We heard stuff falling, loud noises. And then it quit. It got quiet.”

After it passed, the couple emerged to see their neighborhood devastated by the tornado. Many large trees were down. Houses were severely damaged. The high school’s roof was shredded and the windows were blown out. But Spencer and his wife were not injured. The giant trees on their property lay sideways on the lawn and the house had some minor damage.

“We come through it real good, as far as the physical part,” Spencer said.

Near a theater in Belvidere, Illinois, where a tornado killed one man and injured 40 concertgoers, Ross Potter picked up glass shards Friday in front of his building. The last time the town was devastated to this extent from a tornado was in 1967.

Ambulances whirred by after the theater was hit.

“They took, I can’t even remember how many people,” Potter said. He was lucky — only a few of his building’s windows were broken, mostly on the second floor. Across the street, most of the brick siding on a storefront was ripped away.

Back in Wynne in northeastern Arkansas, Alan Purser stopped in his pickup truck to chat with Spencer. Purser described how he rode out the tornado with his cats in his home, which is being remodeled. He took a risk, sheltering in the sun room which is covered by glass, but it was one of the few rooms not being remodeled.

“I just lay down with my cats, and lay a blanket over me, and let it rumble,” he said of the tornado that flipped over the camper van parked outside.

In Little Rock, Arkansas, nine firefighters were in Fire Station No. 9, located in one of the most devastated areas in the city, when the tornado hit. They sheltered in the chief’s office as the tornado damaged their building.

“If I said it wasn’t scary, I’d be lying,” Capt. Ben Hammond said Saturday.

Once the tornado passed, the firefighters began working to help injured residents and to clear debris blocking their equipment.

“Once you address all the people you can see, then you’ve got to start looking for the people you can’t see,” he said.

The fire station has served as a shelter for neighbors amid fears that another storm was coming. ___

Associated Press reporters Harm Venhuizen in Belvidere, Illinois, and Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this story. Selsky reported from Salem, Oregon.

United States News

Associated Press

Police in suburban Chicago are sued over a fatal shooting of a man in his home

CHICAGO (AP) — The sisters of a man fatally shot in his home this month by suburban Chicago police filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the officers and their department, alleging wrongful death and other counts. Kyenna McConico and Kennetha Barnes, sisters of Isaac Goodlow III, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago […]

34 minutes ago

Workers drive among shipping containers and trailers at a BNSF intermodal terminal, Jan. 3, 2024, i...

Associated Press

US economy grew solid 3.2% in fourth quarter, a slight downgrade from government’s initial estimate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a robust 3.2% annual pace from October through December, propelled by healthy consumer spending, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday in a slight downgrade from its initial estimate. The expansion in the nation’s gross domestic product — the economy’s total output of goods and services — slipped from […]

59 minutes ago

FILE - Activists mark the first anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Wom...

Associated Press

About as many abortions are happening in the US monthly as before Roe was overturned, report finds

The number of abortions performed each month is about the same as before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the nationwide right to abortion more than a year and a half ago, a new report finds. The latest edition of the #WeCount report conducted for the Society of Family Planning, a nonprofit […]

1 hour ago

This undated photo shows oral historian Francine D. Spang-Willis, who is leading a project to creat...

Associated Press

Laurene Powell Jobs’ philanthropy seeks to strengthen communities with grants for local leaders

Francine Spang-Willis wishes the landscape of the Crazy Mountains near Livingston, Montana, could speak for itself. But absent that, the oral historian will launch a new project talking to people with a connection to the land. Spang-Willis is one of a dozen new fellows announced Wednesday by the Emerson Collective, Laurene Powell Jobs’ philanthropy. In […]

1 hour ago

American and District of Columbia flags fly outside of the Madison Hotel on Feb. 26, 2024, in Washi...

Associated Press

AP Decision Notes: What to expect in the District of Columbia’s GOP presidential primary

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in the nation’s capital will gather in a hotel this weekend and cast their ballots for the GOP presidential candidate they would like to see occupy the White House. The contest may be the best chance for former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to score a victory in a presidential nomination contest. […]

2 hours ago

FILE - The Idaho state flag hangs in the State Capitol in Boise, Idaho, Jan. 9, 2023. Idaho Republi...

Associated Press

AP Decision Notes: What to expect in Idaho’s GOP caucuses

WASHINGTON (AP) — When life cancels your primary, have a caucus. That’s what Idaho Republicans will do this Saturday when they gather in meetings across the state to help pick their party’s presidential nominee. State legislators originally hoped to save money by consolidating the March 12 presidential primary with their May 21 primary for state […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Tornado survivors recount flying debris, destroyed buildings