Man recalls cleaning up after deadly tornadoes in 1999

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- On this day 22 years ago, tornados ripped across the natural state.

January 21st, 1999 became one of the busiest and deadliest nights for tornadoes in Arkansas history.
Many people can recall exactly where they were when the sirens started and how the night seemed to last forever.

“It was a crazy aftermath for sure,” said David Van Dusen, cleaned up after deadly tornadoes, “It was crazy, it was wild. Just stuff everywhere, trees twisted, I’ve never seen stuff like that before so it was crazy.”

David Van Dusen has a different memory of this historic day.

In 1999, Van Dusen was a teen incarcerated in Texarkana. He said, a crew of about 30 men helped with cleaning up the mess left behind.

However, the inmates didn’t know there was 56 tornadoes between January 21st and 22nd.

“I mean we knew it was tornadoes obviously but I didn’t know there was deviation like people killed and whatnot. I didn’t know it was at that level,” said Van Dusen.

According to the National Weather Service, most of the tornadoes were produced between 4 pm and 8 pm CST on the 21st, and were accompanied by baseball to grapefruit size hail at times.

During the storms, eight people were killed and 150 injuries were reported.

Van Dusen said to this day, he’s never seen anything like the desolation left behind.

Van Dusen said even though he was incarcerated, he was glad to lend a helping hand.

“It sucked that I was locked up but I’m glad that I was in that spot at the time so I could help other people,” said Van Dusen.

According to the National Weather Service, 1999 is still the busiest year on record for tornadoes in Arkansas. In total there were 107 tornadoes that year.

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