AUGUSTA, Ark. – In the wake of a series of tornadoes that stretched across the south-central United States Friday, those in Augusta are sorting through debris after a direct hit from an EF-2 storm.
The storm mostly impacted the Sinclair Drive neighborhood and surrounding streets, a mile north of Augusta on AR-33. Homes were left without roofs, siding panels, and windows and some buildings were destroyed.
Mayor Jeff Collins’ home was also impacted and was one of the first homes on the street to see damage from the storm.
“My heart just sank,” Collins said when he stepped outside his door and saw the extensive damage. “These are my friends and my neighbors.”
He says he was at home when the storm touched down, watching as the sky turned an “emerald green” and the pressure dropped so quickly his ears popped. He says it only took a matter of minutes for trees to snap in half and powerlines to come down.
Power and utilities have been shut off to the devastated neighborhood as crews work to sort through the damage. Collins adds that FEMA and other rescue groups arrived quickly after the storm to assist victims. He says everyone who worked over the weekend was a volunteer, a testament to the compassion of a close-knit neighborhood.
“Look at what we’ve got going on today,” Collins said as crews worked to clear roadways and search houses. “We’re together.”
There were no major injuries to report after the storm, although Collins says some were transported to a local medical center with cuts and bruises. It is not clear when neighbors will be able to return home, or how many houses will have to be rebuilt.