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Hughes, AR Comes Together After Deadly Tornado

HUGHES, AR -- A small, tight-knit community bands together after an EF-2 tornado tore through, destroying homes and killing one person.
HUGHES, AR -- With maximum winds of 130 mph, an EF-2 tornado struck the town of Hughes, Arkansas, on December 21. The storm killed one person and injured three others while destroying and damaging many homes.

Pulling into Hughes, it's clear it's a tight knit community. Everyone knows everyone, especially Timothy Starks, who lives across the street from the hardest hit part of town.

“It tore this off my house, see this new stuff right here?” he says as he shows us the new pieces of tin he put on his roof.

Mr. Starks has lived in Hughes for 71 years and has kids that still live in town. Saturday night, when the storm came through, he was in West Memphis with his wife and stepdaughter.
 
“They told me that it hit the shop. I said my house is next. I jumped up, hopped in that car right there, and drove all the way from West Memphis in that storm.”

The car he's talking about is an SUV he was washing on a cold Christmas morning as we pulled up. Behind him was the site where a home was destroyed and a life was lost, Ms. Charlene Lewis.  That said, the community comes together. They say it doesn't matter if it's Christmas or not.

“The community's always together around here," Starks says. "They may talk about you, but they're going to come and help you.”

Across the street from Mr. Starks’ house, there are pieces of lives strewn about: an old ladder, a used up air freshener, pieces of a house, even a torn up American flag.

"A disaster," Mr. Starks says as he looks across a field. “I look across there and I get sad because I can't see Charlene anymore.”

“Heartbreak, devastation,” adds Jeanette Skipper of First Baptist Church with a pause and a sigh.

Skipper also helped organize a fund to help the town recover and says the response has been great.

“We have been overwhelmed with the number of things that were given from our community as well as the surrounding community,” she tells us.

Ricky Barkley made a donation. He lives near Hot Springs, Arkansas, now, but spent over 30 years in Hughes. He even played football with Mr. Starks’ son.

“Losing your home and stuff, to go back to it before Christmas, it's a big deal," Barkley says. "Look over there, it's bad."

If you'd like to donate to those affected by the deadly storm, you can send cash or check to:

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
P.O. BOX 25
HUGHES, AR 72348
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