Volunteers help Tyronza, Arkansas recover from severe tornado damage

Tornado leaves path of destruction in Tyronza Ark.

TYRONZA, Ark. (WMC) - The National Weather Service says their preliminary reports indicate an EF-1 tornado caused damage in Tyonza Arkansas. Local law enforcement says they are enforcing a curfew beginning at 9 p.m. to prevent looting.

The gas station, the elementary school and dozens of homes in Tyronza, Arkansas have severe damage from an EF-1 tornado that hit early Monday morning. People say they are finding hope and strength in each other as communities from all over the region have come to help clean up.

A bird's eye view of the damage sustained in Monday's storms.
A bird's eye view of the damage sustained in Monday's storms. (Source: Steve Porchet)

Thankfully it wasn’t worse, words most people will tell you in Tyronza, as a large portion of the town has been damaged.

“The gas station here, there was woman standing inside and a woman standing outside when the tornado hit,” Jay Paul Woods of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief said. “So they’re fortunate.”

The destroyed Valero gas station shows how powerful the winds were Monday morning. The three gas pumps were ripped out of the ground.

Next door, part of the roof was ripped off the elementary school leaving behind glass, water and debris.

“It was unexpected and when we received the call we were not expecting to have the tornado to hit this part of the county,” Poinsett County Sheriff Kevin Molder said.

Monday morning's storms destroyed the Valero station just off Interstate 555.
Monday morning's storms destroyed the Valero station just off Interstate 555. (Source: KAIT-TV)

Molder says four people were injured. None of the injuries were life threatening.

Seeing the destruction, more than 40 volunteers from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief brought food, a grill and chainsaws to help people begin to recover.

“When you see their eyes light up from what we’re doing and not charging them for,” Woods said. “Then that gives us the sense of a blessing and know that we’re doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Eldron Gill’s home has significant damage from a large tree that fell. Volunteers helped him remove the tree. That support meant everything to Gill.

“Just grateful,” he said. “I’m just grateful for them.”

Many people who have spent their entire lives in Tyronza say they have never seen damage this bad from a tornado before. Although it may take a long time, with everyone’s help they are confident they will rebuild.

“Things like this, you get the best and the worst,” Woods said. “The worst of how people feel, the best of people coming out and helping.”

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