EF-1 tornado causes damage in Northeast Arkansas

OSCEOLA, AR (WMC) - The tornado that touched down in Mississippi County, Arkansas was classified by the National Weather Service as an EF-1.

Winds from the tornado reached up to 90 miles per hour.

There's still a lot of cleaning up to do, and for the owners of the Rodeway Inn in Osceola, Arkansas, they have to decide if they can save anything from their business after they took a direct hit from the tornado--and it was captured by surveillance video.

Sunday, in the light of day, meteorologists from the National West Service (NWS) made a trip to Northeast Arkansas to survey the destructive power of Saturday's tornado.

"You never really get used to it when you come out and actually see the tornado damage. It's breath taking really to see it with you own eyes," NWS meteorologist William Churchill said.

After surveying the damage at the Rodeway Inn, the NWS declared the tornado an EF 1--one category above the weakest, EF zero tornadoes.

"This is what we consider a weak tornado, but it still causes a lot of damage for people," Tom Salem with NWS said.

Simerdit Kaur owns the Deerfield Inn and Suites that's next door to the Rodeway Inn. Their surveillance cameras caught the exact moment the tornado hit, hurling debris as it passed through.

To her, it didn't sound like a small tornado.

"I heard like a bomb," she explained.

The only man injured by the high winds was Terry Brown, who manages the Rodeway Inn. He was trying to get people inside to safety when he was hurt.

"A gutter just floored me. It just knocked me down, and I just crawled into the room. And it lasted five to 10 seconds, and it was just rumbling, the whole building was shaking," Brown said.

As the sun sets for the first time on the destroyed Inn, the people who survived the tornado are thanking a higher power for miraculously sparing everyone's life.

"Glad everyone is OK, and God is good," Brown said.

Amazingly, the other hotels and motels directly next door to the Rodeway Inn only received minor damage. People said they couldn't hear the tornado sirens that were going off because the wind and rain was just too loud.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.