FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – A tornado made its way through Jacksonville, Ark. on Friday, March 31, 2023.

The National Weather Service labeled it as an EF-3 tornado with wind gusts of up to 165 miles per hour absorbing everything in its path.

Eddie Miller the Pastor of New Commandment Church of God in Christ in Jacksonville, was one of many who experienced a great loss.

“That was the front door, and of course, you can see the beams came through the ceiling and then it’s a total loss, a complete loss,” Miller said.

Miller says he will never forget the feeling of hearing on the news that the tornado in Jacksonville was headed toward his church.

“I turned the corner and saw the church, I was speechless and my stomach dropped,” Miller said

Miller says a lot of damage was done to the church but the real prize was none of his church members’ lives were lost.

“If it had come an hour later, we would have been here and we’re talking about over a hundred people easily, fifty children, and so it would have been a total disaster,” Miller said.

Jeff Elmore the Mayor of the city of Jacksonville says this is a very traumatic time for the citizens of Jacksonville.

“The worst part is just hurting for the people, going to these people who have lost their homes, have lost their business, and so forth and so just reaching out to them and seeing the hurt,” Elmore said.

Elemore says you can easily see a two-mile stretch of the tornado damage in Jacksonville that affected homes, businesses, and lives but he says several recovery efforts are being made to help those who are in need.

“I’m trying to do everything that I can, I want to be there for our people, I want them to know that they can reach out to me or rely on me,” Elmore said.