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Tornado Tears Apart New School in Vilonia

VILONIA, AR -- Tornado demolishes newly-built school, leaving the district to pick up the pieces.
VILONIA, AR -- Among the dozens of buildings destroyed by Sunday's tornado in Vilonia, a brand-new middle school.

The storm ripped apart the very same school that was leveled in a tornado in 2011.

"We were set to have the school here this fall. Grades 4, 5 and 6 were going to be attending here," William Brady, job site foreman said. "One of my biggest pleasures is seeing the kids on their first day of school and how they react to walking in a brand-new building."

Crews spent a year building the $13 million facility.

Now, Vilonia Public Schools are left to pick up the pieces and cope with the effects of the middle school's destruction.

"It's changed everything," Vilonia Superintendent Frank Mitchell said. "All the things we've been working on -- the bus routes, our curriculum (and) placing teachers."

But though the school was lost, the building was unoccupied when the tornado hit.

"I look around me, and people's houses are gone today," Brady said.

The piles of rubble scattered across the remains of communities like Vilonia and Mayflower offer perspective.

"Everything that they've got is gone," Mitchell said. "The worst thing is the kids and the adults that were lost. I think that's what we need to concentrate on."
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