Tag Archive: Little Rock


Devastating spring storms destroy Ala. family

By PHILLIP RAWLS, Associated Press Phillip Rawls, Associated Press 33 mins ago

 

BOONE’S CHAPEL, Ala. – The home Willard Hollon had shared with his son and granddaughters is gone now, as is the one where his daughter lived, both twisted from their foundations by a tornado and tossed into the woods nearby. The storms that devastated the Deep South destroyed his family, too: Willard, his son Steve and daughter Cheryl all were killed when the winds roared through.

The storms that smacked the Midwest and South with howling winds and pounding rain left 17 people dead in four states, including the Hollons. Steve Hollon had recently retired from the Air Force and moved into his father’s home with his wife and two daughters while they remodeled a home of their own up the road — he had come to this small community about 25 miles from Montgomery to be closer to his dad.

Henley Hollon lived across the street from his brother Willard and had come outside after the storm passed to make sure everyone was all right. The winds whirled, the lights went out and it all lasted less than a minute, he said. All he saw were a set of wooden steps and flowerbeds, the blooms still on the plants as though nothing happened. An American flag once displayed outside Cheryl’s home had been draped over a tree branch about 100 feet away.

“When I shined the light out there I could see it was all gone,” Willard Hollon said.

Click image to see more photos of Deep South storms

Hymnals still rested on the pews at the nearby Boone’s Chapel Baptist Church, even though the walls and roof had blown away. Tammie Silas joined other church members to clean up the debris and came upon two photos of the Hollon family.

“This is all they’ve got left,” Silas said as she clutched the pictures.

Willard Hollon’s wife, Sarah, his granddaughters and Steve’s wife all survived.

A neighbor, retired Alabama Power employee Don Headley, echoed what others in an area accustomed to nasty weather and the threat of tornadoes had said: When the storm bore down on them, they thought the worst had already ended. He had been on his patio and thought he and his wife were in the clear.

“The rain was just in sheets. There was a big bang. It sounded like something was tearing off my roof. Limbs were rolling off the roof,” he said.

The noise ended in less than a minute, and Headley went back out on his patio. Where he had been standing moments earlier a two-inch wide limb was now driven through the patio roof, he said.

Autauga County Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe Sedinger said seven others were hurt in the area, including a firefighter injured during rescue operations.

Seven people were hurt in the storm, including a firefighter injured during the emergency response, Sedinger said. He said the storm hopscotched for several miles, leaving some areas devastated and others untouched.

In Alabama’s Washington County, about 50 miles north of Mobile, a mother and her two children were among those killed, said county coroner Rickey Davidson. A woman in her 30s and two teenage boys died when the storm demolished a double-wide mobile home in the Deer Park community.

The woman’s husband survived and was in the hospital, he said. Winds had thrown things 100 yards from where the home had stood.

“It was not a pretty sight,” Davidson said.

Another death was reported in Mississippi’s Greene County, said Jeff Rent, a spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. He did not have further details, and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return a phone message Saturday.

In Marengo County in west-central Alabama, four separate tornadoes hit over the span of about five to six hours, emergency management director Kevin McKinney said.

A state of emergency had been declared for the whole state, and even the first NASCAR race of a busy weekend at Talladega Superspeedway was postponed.

Tornadoes first started touching down Thursday in Oklahoma, where two people were killed before the system pushed into Arkansas and left another seven dead, including three children.

The worst damage in Oklahoma was in the small town of Tushka, where two people were killed and at least 25 hurt as the tornado plowed through the town of 350.

Back in Boone’s Chapel, Tammie Silas reflected on the fate of her church. The sanctuary was gone, though a school wing and gymnasium survived the storm. The sanctuary had been too small for Sunday morning services anyway, she said.

“We’d been talking about building a new sanctuary,” she said, “and God said, ‘OK.'”

___

Associated Press writers Jay Reeves in Birmingham; Chuck Bartels and Jeannie Nuss in Little Rock, Ark.; Nomaan Merchant in Bald Knob, Ark.; Kristi Eaton in Tushka, Okla.; Holbrook Mohr in Jackson, Miss.; and Jeff Martin and Jacob Jordan in Atlanta contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110416/ap_on_re_us/us_severe_weather

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Largest earthquake in 35 years hits Arkansas

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110301/ap_on_re_us/us_arkansas_earthquakes

By SARAH EDDINGTON, Associated Press Sarah Eddington, Associated Press Tue Mar 1, 12:07 am ET

GREENBRIER, Ark. – The central Arkansas town of Greenbrier has been plagued for months by hundreds of small earthquakes, and after being woken up by the largest quake to hit the state in 35 years, residents said Monday they’re unsettled by the increasing severity and lack of warning.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the quake at 11 p.m. Sunday, centered just northeast of Greenbrier, about 40 miles north of Little Rock. It was the largest of more than 800 quakes to strike the area since September in what is now being called the Guy-Greenbrier earthquake swarm.

The activity has garnered national attention and researchers are studying whether there’s a possible connection to the region’s natural gas drilling industry. The earthquake activity varies each week, though as many as nearly two dozen small quakes have occurred in a day.

“You don’t know what to expect. It’s unnerving,” said Corinne Tarkington, an employee at a local flower and gift shop. “I woke up last night to the sound of my house shaking.”

What woke Tarkington was a magnitude 4.7 earthquake that was also felt in Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi. No injuries or major damage have been reported, but the escalation in the severity of quakes in and around the small north-central Arkansas town has many residents on edge. Some said they’re seeing gradual damage to their homes, such as cracks in walls and driveways.

“We probably had 40 to 50 calls last night,” Greenbrier police Sgt. Rick Woody said, noting that the tone of the calls had changed. After pervious quakes, most callers simply wanted to find out if a loud noise they’d heard was an earthquake, he said.

“The fear had calmed down until last night,” Woody said Monday. “People’s biggest concerns (now) are whether or not these earthquakes are going to get any bigger.”

Scott Ausbrooks, seismologist for the Arkansas Geological Survey, said Sunday’s record quake was at the “max end” of what scientists expect to happen, basing that judgment on this swarm and others in the past. It’s possible that a quake ranging from magnitude 5.0 to 5.5 could occur, but anything greater than that is highly unlikely, he said.

Ausbrooks said he plans to hold a town hall meeting in Greenbrier next month to address people’s concerns.

“This quake actually scared folks,” he said. “It lasted longer than a lot of the others did.”

Ausbrooks said scientists continue to study whether there may be a connection between the earthquakes and local injection wells, where the natural gas industry pumps waste water that can no longer be used by drillers for hydraulic fracturing. Fracturing, or “fracking,” involves injecting pressurized water to create fractures deep in the ground to help free the gas.

Geologists don’t believe the fracturing is the problem, but possibly the injection wells.

A major source of the state’s natural gas is the Fayetteville Shale, an organically-rich rock formation in north-central Arkansas. A six-month moratorium was established in January on new injection wells in the area to allow time to study the relationship — if any — between the wells and the earthquakes.

In Greenbrier, many residents are starting to notice gradual damage. Tarkington said her house has started to show cracks in ceilings and walls.

“You can see the wear and tear on our houses,” she said. “I wish they’d go away.”

Taylor Farrell, 29, a Greenbrier resident and employee at a local flea market, said a large crack formed in her driveway several months ago, and as the earthquakes continue, the crack has spread into her garage.

She said she and her husband had removed everything from the walls of their house, including family photos and television sets, because many photos had fallen in recent quakes.

“Other than that, there’s really not much more you can do,” she said. “It’s Mother Earth. It’s going to do what it’s going to do. All we can do is wait for the big one and hope and pray it doesn’t happen.”

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