SPRINGDALE, Ark. — In the early morning hours of March 30, 2022, a tornado with winds up to 145 mph touched down in Springdale, leaving seven people injured and multiple homes, businesses and an elementary school damaged.
The tornado was rated an EF-3, a rating given to tornadoes that can have deadly effects and cause severe property damage.
According to 5NEWS meteorologists, the tornado began at 4:04 a.m. just south of Johnson and ended at 4:12 a.m. near Emma Avenue by the Springdale Airport.
The tornado traveled 5.2 miles and was up to 350 yards wide.
George Elementary's gymnasium was completely destroyed, along with a home nearby. Several homes had their roofs blown off, vehicles flipped over, wooden electrical poles snapped, and several other instances of damage throughout the city.
A hangar on the east side of the Springdale Airport was destroyed, the NWS said, along with several other buildings nearby.
Debris from the tornado was carried into Benton County.
Northwest Medical Center in Springdale cared for four of the seven injured storm victims. The hospital had even lost power and ran a backup generator for about four hours.
5NEWS spoke with a father and son, David and James Stout, who were two of the victims in need of medical care after the tornado hit their home. "We didn’t have a warning at all until it hit,” James Stout said. “All we heard was like a freight train."
Within seconds, they say the sound was gone. In the distance, some of the family members heard David’s faint voice. David was in critical condition, receiving three broken ribs, a broken jaw and bruised lungs. James said a tree hit him in the head.
Over a month after the tornado hit, on April 15, 2022, then-Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the allocation of $100,000 in individual assistance to homeowners.
In August 2022, Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse talked about how the cleanup continued nearly five months later.
"We don't have a specific deadline for an event like this," Sprouse said. "That was the first personal injury tornado we'd had in over forty years in Springdale"
He says his main goal isn't about how the city looks but how the people are.
Springdale resident Lorraine Miller says that "they finally did get started, and it made me feel so good because the house up until then looked like a pincushion with all the outside walls full of these little sticks and branches."
"I'm very proud to be from Springdale, for our residents and for the way they continue to persevere," said Sprouse. "This is not an easy time."
“It’s nice to be able to drive through those areas now and see that most everything has been recovered and restored," said Sprouse.
Sprouse said that "Springdale has no city-operated storm shelters. The main reason is that by the time our residents get a warning about a tornado in the area, it’s even more dangerous to get on the road to try to get to one. We’ve evaluated some city-owned facilities that could possibly serve as shelters, but none seemed like a good option. That’s why I stress having the plan to shelter in place ahead of time— because there is usually very little time."
Miller says that " With the weather coming up tomorrow, you know it really makes my stomach turn because I don't know what it's going to bring."
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