Jonesboro tornado strike update

Mar 29, 2020

Credit City of Jonesboro

Here are the latest facts related to Saturday’s tornado, which spanned at least five miles through Jonesboro from I-555 near Brown’s Lane to Bush Agriculture Resources north of Farville Curve:

Mayor Harold Perrin and Craighead County Judge Marvin Day have both declared emergencies, and a second 7 p.m.-to-daylight curfew will be enforced for anyone not traveling to or from work on Sunday evening. Whether that curfew will have to be extended to a third day will be determined as rescue and cleanup efforts proceed.

First responders will meet again Sunday morning, and a news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Craighhead County Court Annex. Volunteers who played a vital role Saturday and expected to rejoin the crews Sunday will not be required, as the city and county consider their fulltime staff sufficient for the day, Jonesboro Fire Chief Kevin Miller said.

No known fatalities occurred Saturday, and no immediate reports of missing persons were received by E-911 or first responders, but could come in the next few days. Miller said search and rescue missions turned up incalculable damage, and a handful of injuries were reported by Jonesboro hospitals.

Jonesboro Police, Fire and Code Enforcement officers, along with County officials, ambulance services and fellow first responders from surrounding counties handled scores of emergencies, setting up road blocks and directing traffic before Saturday’s 7 p.m. curfew. The Streets Department helped clear damaged vehicles and debris in streets and roads, and all city streets were open by 10 p.m.

“This is what Northeast Arkansas does in an emergency, and I am so grateful to everyone for hustling to ensure Jonesboro’s safety,” Perrin said.

Multiple train cars were overturned near Farville Curve, one with a minor amount of hazardous material that required a HAZMAT team. That leak has been resolved, but more cars remain to be cleared up.

“Recovering from this will take a matter of months and possibly years, not days and weeks,” Perrin said. “But if we can escape without loss of life, it would be a major blessing. I already grateful that we saw this much damage and have had so few reports of injury.”

Dozens of buildings were damaged, and while more search operations will continue at daybreak Sunday, the public will not be allowed near Turtle Creek Mall. “We cannot guarantee the structural integrity of that building,” Miller said.

Police Chief Rick Elliott and County Sheriff Marty Boyd will set up a hotline for volunteers and charitable donors of everything from food to the heavy equipment that will be needed to clean up the city. That number will be provided Sunday.

Verizon, AT&T and AlticeUSA/Suddenlink are sending extra mobile cell towers to restore service to affected areas.

Several shelters were set up Saturday evening, but were lightly used. Officials said shelters will continue to be available in coming days and weeks as needs arise.

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