Harrisburg residents, National Weather Service assess damage left in EF-2 tornado’s wake

Claypool Reservoir tornado - an EF-2 - brought 125 mph winds Wednesday evening, according to NWS

Poinsett Co. Kevin Molder with initial damage assessment and warnings to residents

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - On Thursday morning, after the sun rose, residents of Harrisburg were out and about surveying the destruction left behind by the previous night’s storm.

Dozens of homes in the town and the county were damaged, Sheriff Kevin Molder said.

The National Weather Service released details Thursday from a preliminary damage survey of the area.

Officials said there were two tornadoes that went through Northeast Arkansas Wednesday evening.

The first tornado - an EF-0 - briefly touched down near Cash with 65-70 mph winds, while the second tornado touched down near the Claypool Reservoir area in Poinsett County.

The Claypool Reservoir tornado was an EF-2 with 125 mph winds, according to the National Weather Service.

Disaster relief teams arrived Thursday to help remove the debris while the American Red Cross conducted damage assessments and provided some relief to residents.

The Harrisburg Chamber of Commerce, as well as Drover Cowboy Church, began collecting donated items for those affected by the tornado.

Please continue to pray for our city during this time! Folks I apologize in advance for the Delayed response! I have...

Posted by Harrisburg Police Department on Thursday, April 9, 2020

Poinsett County sheriff’s deputies spent Wednesday night searching homes for victims.

Sheriff Molder asked people to stay in their homes, and not go sightseeing.

The tornado flipped a Clayton Home off of Raybourn Road multiple times.

Two people inside the home suffered serious injuries when they were thrown from the home. They were taken to local hospitals, according to the man’s son, and are expected to be okay.

Molder said minor injuries were also reported across the area.

One of the hardest hit neighborhoods was North Illinois Street behind the Dollar General store.

Multiple agencies from the area soon arrived after reports of the tornado first surfaced and set up a command center at the county jail.

Molder said emergency crews and deputies soon mobilized to the northwest part of the county to help search for people who might have been injured.

Crews searched late Wednesday night.

The tornado was spotted on the ground by Region 8 Meteorologist Aaron Castleberry over open farmland near Highway 67 and 226 around 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Castleberry said you could see the storm pick up steam in the area as well as tree debris as the storm moved through.

Large hail was reported throughout the area, with nearly two-inch hail reported in Horseshoe Bend, Lynn, and Ravenden as well as one-inch hail in Strawberry, Egypt, and Viola, according to the National Weather Service.

Utility companies also reported outages throughout the area.

Nearly 4,300 Entergy customers were without power at one point Wednesday evening throughout Arkansas, with about a third of the outages in Craighead, Lawrence, Mississippi, and Poinsett counties.

By Thursday afternoon, utility crews had cut the number down to about 350 customers without power.

Craighead Electric also reported sporadic outages Wednesday evening but power has since been restored, according to their website.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson also received reports from state emergency officials about the tornado.

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