Faulkner County, Ark. residents continue to deal with unbelievable devastation caused by a deadly EF4 tornado that tore through towns like Vilonia, ripping houses from foundations and snapping trees in half. President Barack Obama spoke to victims across the state during a tour of the damage a week after the April storm; he told Arkansans the country supports them in their recovery. Vilonia just rebuilt parts of the town after a tornadic disaster three years ago, and now many are looking to start over again.
How to use this interactive: Below you will find several before-and-after sliders of the damage. Take the green handle and slide it from left to right to examine the destruction on two different streets in Vilonia. On mobile devices it is easier to click "show only before" or "show only after."
The tornado flattened houses on Clover Ridge Drive. Google Street View shows some of the houses were still under construction earlier in 2014. People in the area say it looks like a bomb went off. Many residents took cover in closets, the only part of some houses remaining after the storm.
The storm also ravaged businesses. According to the Department of Workforce, those who lost their jobs because of the tornado do qualify for unemployment.
Fifteen lives were lost during the tornado, eight of which were in Vilonia. Flags fly across the wreckage, like on Cemetery Street, for each person who died. One victim, Jeffery Hunter, took shelter in the bathroom from an EF4 tornado approaching the town, he decided to spend his final moments text messaging his mother.
"I have a text on my phone as the tornado was hitting, 'Goodbye mama,' " his mother Regina Wood told NBC affiliate KARK. "First he said, 'Mama, I'm so scared.' "
After the storms, the president quickly approved a major disaster declaration to make sure federal resources would be available to help people in Arkansas affected by the tornadoes.
"This town has seen more than its fair share of tragedy," said Obama. "Almost exactly three years ago, another tornado leveled parts of Vilonia and some families and businesses had just finished rebuilding when they were forced to start all over, but folks here are tough. They look out for one another and that's been especially clear over the past week."
"When I close my eyes at night, I hear it," said Cheryl McGhee who survived the storm with her husband. "We could hear the windows, the trucks, everything just coming through the house."
Crews are bulldozing what is left of the houses.
It will take a long time before people in the county will be able to put their lives back together. Some are wondering where they will even start.
"More than any disaster, it is that dedication and that commitment to each other that truly defines this town," said the president. "The people of Vilonia and all the other towns devastated by the storm understand there is a lot of work that remains to be done, but I'm here to remind them that they're not doing this work alone. Your country is gonna be here for you. We'll support you every step of the way, you're in our thoughts and prayers."
After photos by Mark Deal // Before photos via Google Street View // Interactive by Ashli Blow // Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.