Surprise nighttime storm downs trees, raises roofs throughout Ozark County
Many Ozark Countians this week are cutting their way through a thicket of downed trees and fences and celebrating the return of electrical power – or maybe still waiting for the lights to come back on, after a strong, swift storm swept through the area in the early-morning hours Monday.
Between 1:41 a.m. Monday, when tornado sirens were activated in Theodosia and Gainesville, and 7:17 a.m. more than a dozen storm-related calls came into the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department, reporting trees down, roofs gone and power lines hanging over roads.
At 5:09 a.m. Monday, the sheriff’s log reports “city sirens not working” in Gainesville. Ozark County Emergency Manager Curtis Ledbetter said the Gainesville sirens initially worked but then it was “hit-and-miss,” and at least one of Gainesville’s two storm sirens wouldn’t come back on when it was reset. The basement of the Ozark County Courthouse was opened, and some residents took advantage of the storm shelter, Ledbetter said, adding Monday afternoon that calls were still coming in to report power outages and damage. Fortunately, no injuries had been reported at press time Tuesday morning.
Ozark County Western Commissioner Greg Donley said, at the commission’s regular Monday meeting, that several trees were down in the Willhoit, Theodosia, Isabella, Longrun and Nottinghill areas. Valerie and Earl Stoner’s house on County Road 861 “almost blowed away,” Donley said. “And every tree in their yard came down.”
Donley said he’d also heard “third-hand” that power might not be restored to some residents in the Haskins Ford area for awhile because so many lines were down. However, the White River Valley Electrical Co-op’s website Monday night showed that all outages had been restored in Ozark County.
Howell-Oregon Electric Co-op, which serves a section of eastern Ozark County, didn’t fare as well. A news release at 4:38 p.m. Monday said 1,754 members in Ozark, Howell and Oregon counties were still without power. By Tuesday morning, that number had shrunk to 553. “High winds coupled with saturated grounds caused trees from outside the right-of-way to fall onto lines causing the lines to fall to the ground,” the announcement said, adding that 31 utility poles were broken. The outages affected 36 distribution lines throughout the area, and HOE linemen and cooperative personnel were working on restoring power with the help of 20 Arkansas Right of Way personnel and five Pike crews, the news release said.
A barn on County Road 173 between Zanoni and Sycamore was destroyed, and the roofs were torn off two others there, according to the sheriff’s report.
Several residents along CC Highway west of Dora had severe damage. A tree fell on the home of Jay and Kim Roberts and their children, Jace, 2, and Maddy, 4. Jay said they got the kids out of the bedroom “just as the window was getting broke out.” His little boy got some glass on him, Jay said, “but the kids are OK.”
Another CC Highway west resident, Dan Hamby, said his house wasn’t hit, but a tree smashed his truck and his chicken coop. “The poor chicks went for a ride last night,” he said, adding that, for a while, “I thought I’d be a goner.”
The storm blew Tommy Luna’s mobile home off its foundation on CC Highway west. He wasn’t hurt, but he said, “I heard the wind and got up to get my clothes on when it took me right off my feet. I didn’t even have time to get my clothes on.”
Tommy’s brother Jason and wife Amber, who live north of Dora near the Douglas County line, went to a friend’s house when the storm hit. Downed trees blocked the roadways after the storm, and they had to walk through fields to get home. They were relieved to see no major damage – except that their dead-bolted door was blown open.
Another Dora-area resident, Steven Engert, was working at Caterpillar in Pomona when the storm hit. He wasn’t able to get back to his house on County Road 382 Monday morning because of downed trees; his wife and kids had gone to a friend’s house for safety, he said.
Monday afternoon, a truck from Convoy of Hope was at Roy’s Store in Dora offering supplies and necessities to residents who had suffered losses due to the storm.
The storm that wreaked havoc here was part of a system that stretched northward from Texas, where a tornado touched down in Dallas, causing major damage. The Texas governor declared 16 counties a disaster area because of weather-related damage.
Closer to home, KY3.com reported that an EF-0 storm with 85-mph winds hit Republic and swept a 5-mile path through Greene County. In Springfield, straight-line winds were blamed for damage to homes and businesses.