Greene County, Arkansas

Marmaduke Tornado

April 2, 2006

Story Date: Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Tornado leaves town devastated

Photos from tornado
Taken by Bob Robertson who was working on power restoration in the area.

MARMADUKE -- The sleepy little town of Marmaduke was active Monday as emergency service workers filled the streets helping in the clean-up effort in the aftermath of a tornado that ripped through the Greene County community Sunday evening.

Estimates range from 200-300 homes destroyed by the tornado, according to various city and county officials.

There were between 40-50 people injured in the storm, many of whom were transported to Arkansas Methodist Medical Center. Four others were critically injured, including one individual who was found in a tree, according to Marmaduke Mayor Nileane Drope.

As of 6 p.m. Monday no fatalities had been reported. It was unclear whether there was anyone left unaccounted for. Marmaduke's mayor said the damage done by Sunday's storm was probably twice as bad as what the city sustained in 1997 when another tornado tore through the quiet community.

A portion of the city was evacuated Sunday evening and a dusk-to-dawn curfew was established. Those not able to stay in their homes Monday evening were asked to leave Marmaduke by 7 p.m.

Shortly after noon, residents were allowed back inside city limits to retrieve belongings that could be salvaged from their homes and yards.

By early afternoon cadaver dogs, called in from central Arkansas, were searching the rubble of the hardest-hit areas.

Once the cadaver dogs searched the area, heavy equipment followed behind, scooping up the remnants.

Gov. Mike Huckabee declared the county a disaster area. He is expected to visit Marmaduke today to see the devastation first hand.

An Arkansas Department of Emergency Management official was on hand Monday, and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are expected to visit the tornado-ravaged community today.

Emergency service workers from Craighead, Mississippi and Clay counties assisted Greene County authorities in rescue and relief efforts.

In addition, Arkansas State Police, Forestry Commission, Game and Fish personnel and the Arkansas National Guard's 875th Engineering Battalion were on hand to assist.

Crews from Greene, Clay and Craighead counties and Paragould Light, Water and Cable were working to get Greene County roads passable, according to Greene County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Shelly Hood.

Act 309 inmates helped clear debris while Paragould and Marmaduke School Districts lent emergency workers buses that were used to filter residents out of the wreckage and to make-shift shelters set up at Paragould churches.

Brian Duncan, Craighead Electric Cooperative's vice president for corporate services, said electric service had been restored to all but about 250 customers. At the peak of the outage there were about 1,000 without power in Greene and Crittenden counties, Duncan said.

He said crews are working in shifts around the clock to restore power. He estimated power will be restored by Wednesday.

By Amanda Harris

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