AUGUSTA, Ark. – Residents in the northern part of Augusta continued cleanup efforts on Monday after a tornado tore through their part of the town on Friday.
The sounds of chainsaws, bulldozers, and tractors filled the air on Monday.
One resident of the area, James Slaughter, had minor damage to his home and his vehicles. He said they even just got one of their two cars paid off just two months ago.
He said on Friday he didn’t even realize it was a tornado that touched down in his neighborhood.
“15 to 20 seconds and that was it! I didn’t know it did any damage!” Slaughter exclaimed.
He finally went outside to survey what happened when his neighbors had called to check on him.
“I was shocked, my mouth came open and I was just shocked,” Slaughter said.
On Monday, Mayor Jeff Collins said approximately 30 homes suffered damage and 8 had been declared total losses. There were four serious injuries with one woman having been airlifted to the hospital with a brain bleed.
She is stable and will not need surgery.
After taking in the scene of his neighborhood, Slaughter admitted he thought there would be more injuries and even fatalities.
“You see the damage and from the looks of things, there would be a whole lot more injuries than it is,” Slaughter said.
Levi Carlton is a farmer in the same area, but he lives in Newport.
He said his family was in their storm shelter most of the night but it seemed like the coast was clear. He was about to go to sleep for the night when he got a call from the Woodruff County Sheriff.
“What could it be? Someones broke into the shop or something like that? Nah, it’s worse than that, we’ve had a tornado come through,” described Carlton.
The tornado wrecked his shop by tossing much of the heavy farm equipment around as if they were toys, tore down several power poles and power lines, and caved in his grain silos.
On Monday his crew was working as fast as they could to get grain from out of those silos before rains could potentially spoil it later in the week.
“Worth up to $7 a bushel, 40,000 bushels, there’s a lot of money tied up, we got $100,000 worth of grain here, easy,” Carlton said.
Carlton said he was confident he can get his operation in Augusta back to normal, in time. He said with supply chains the way they are with agricultural equipment it will take some patience too.
“It’s going to be a challenge to get this thing back up and going but Lord willing everything will be fine,” Carlton said.
Both Slaughter and Carlton are thankful the situation was not worse than what it is for Augusta. Clean-up efforts are a little easier when nobody in the area loses the most important thing they have.
“You know, fix stuff back but can’t fix a life,” Slaughter said.