“It went from pretty skies to tornado within two minutes”: Residents Clean Up Tornado Damage

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On Monday, May 20, some homes in the Fort Smith area were still without power as a result of Saturday’s five EF-1 tornadoes that ripped through the River Valley.

“Next thing I know they come in screaming to get in the bathroom,” said Brandi Simpson, a homeowner in Fort Smith. “Everything just happened so fast. It went from pretty skies to tornado within two minutes.”

Simpson held her two-month-old baby, grateful that all she lost in Saturday’s storms was power and a few trees.

“It’s just, it’s amazing that nobody got hurt. I don’t know how it’s even possible,” she said.

With four kids to care for inside a dark house, Simpson said adjusting to life after a tornado hasn’t been easy.

She said, “Insurance only covers so much so we kinda have to take care of the trees ourselves for most of it.”

While her home life has changed, her house still stands. Others in the area weren’t so lucky. 
 
“It’s basically a war zone,” said Tracy McMillen, a disaster service specialist at Red Cross. “This lady lost her home completely when a gigantic tree fell on it.”
 
McMillen has been connecting storm victims with the resources they need non-stop since the storms hit.
 
Since Saturday, we have served 20 individuals with financial needs and also recovery plans,” she said.
 
This means anything from providing food to providing newly homeless families rooms in local hotels.
 
On Cliff Dr., neighbors helped each other sort through the debris while coming to terms with what happened.
 
“This has never happened in this neighborhood before, so it’s definitely a shocker for most people here,” Simpson said.
 
McMillen said, “You can see other folks just down the street helping each other, chopping down trees, and getting prepared for these next storms that are coming up today and tomorrow.”

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