DEWITT, Ark. – Cleanup begins in southeastern Arkansas after two EF-2 tornados ripped through the area Saturday night. The storm passed just south of DeWitt, causing damage to a rice mill and surrounding farmland.
While the city seems quiet Sunday afternoon, it was a very different picture just 24 hours ago. Justin Midkiff describes it as “panic.” He was working at the local Conoco gas station when the the tornado passed a few miles south of where he was stationed. He didn’t see the funnel cloud for himself, but felt the effects of the storm. “The building went out of power,” Midkiff said. “We had to shut and lock the doors because the wind was picking up.”
As families rushed inside the gas station for shelter, Midkiff says he and others hid in the back hallway, one of the safest areas in the building. “The building’s mainly made of glass,” he explained. “We didn’t have that much security.” At the end of the night the only damage sustained was a missing cart, which had flown away in the storm.
But just down the road, a rice production plant wasn’t so lucky. Metal was ripped off of buildings, the roof collapsed on the main plant, and two smaller shelters nearby were destroyed by high winds. Entergy crews spent most of the day cleaning up sheet metal and downed power lines; wooden poles that had cracked in half from the wind. “Metal was ripped off of grain bins down around DeWitt,” Charles McGhee with Entergy Arkansas explained. “We had somewhere around 30 plus poles broken.”
As crews being to clean up after the powerful storm, neighbors in DeWitt are breathing a sign of relief after a very close call. “Doors were trying to pull off the hinges,” Midkiff said, “it’s not a joke.” No one was injured in the tornado, and Entergy says damage and outages should be resolved by Monday night.