Deadly tornado in the US: Survivors count debris and destroyed buildings

With the Tornadoes Hitting the Midwest and South This Weekendsome survivors said that when they left their homes they found destroyed buildings, vehicles lying like toys, broken glass and felled trees.

JW Spencer, 88, had never experienced a tornado before, but when he and his wife watched on television as a tornado approached their town of Wynne, Arkansas, he opened a front window and a back door at their home to relieve air pressure. The couple ran to the bathroom, where they got into the bathtub. and they covered themselves with quilts and blankets to protect themselves.

Fifteen minutes later, the storm unleashed its fury on the town nestled between the flat fields and fertile farmlands of eastern Arkansas.. Debris came whistling through the house from him.

“We just got over it,” Spencer said Saturday. “We hear things falling, loud noises. And then he stopped. He was silent ”.

after it happened, the couple went outside to see the devastation in the neighborhood.

“We got through it very well, physically-wise,” Spencer said.

Many large trees were felled in the community of 8,000 residents who take pride in their schools, their churches, their family restaurants, and other businesses. Numerous single-family homes were damaged, especially near the high school, whose roof was smashed and windows were blown out.

Near a theater in Belvidere, Illinois, where a tornado killed a man and injured 40 concertgoers, Ross Potter picked up shards of glass outside his building Friday.The last time the city was devastated by a tornado of this magnitude was in 1967 .

Ambulances whizzed by after the theater was attacked.

“They took, I don’t even remember how many people,” Potter said. He was lucky: only a few of the windows in his building were broken, most on the second floor. Across the street, most of a store’s brick siding was torn away.

Back in Wynne, in northeast Arkansas, Alan Purser stopped in his truck to have a chat with Spencer. Purser described how he rode out the tornado with his cats at his home, which is being remodeled. He took a chance, taking refuge in the solarium that is covered by glass, but it was one of the few rooms that was not being remodeled.

“I just laid with my cats, covered myself with a blanket and let it rumble”he said about the tornado that toppled over the camper parked outside.

From his front porch in Covington, Tennessee, Billy Meade Jr. said he saw a tornado go by, before hail fell and the sky turned dark.

“You could see the eddy,” Meade said.“The rain was like a sheet. You could barely see past the rain, it was so dark.But you could see the whirlpool go by.”

Less than a mile away, a tornado struck the elementary school that Meade’s twin sons attend, as well as the high school next door. On Saturday morning, the exposed bleachers of a gym were visible through a wall of crushed bricks. Much of the roof was torn off.

“The neighborhood I’m in looks good, it’s like nothing happened,” Meade said. “But as soon as you turn the corner, it’s like devastation. There are downed power lines everywhere… all kinds of things everywhere.”

And when a tornado hit Little Rock, Arkansas, workers at a Tropical Smoothie Cafe huddled together in the bathroom.

“There was a lot of noise because the glass started to break,” said Irulan Abrams, an employee who was outside the building near a door with broken windows. A siren howled in the distance. She said one person was injured.

“Now we have nowhere to work”said Abrams.

When the tornado hit, there were nine firefighters at Little Rock Fire Station No. 9, which became one of the most devastated areas of the city. They took shelter in the boss’s office when the tornado damaged their building.

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

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

“Once you target all the people you can see, you have to start looking for the people you can’t see,” he said.

The fire station has served as a shelter for residents amid fears that another storm was brewing.

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