Bob Blankenship, mayor of Monette, Arkansas, told DailyExpertNews that his city was in a “shock” after a tornado ripped through the area overnight.
Two deaths were reported this morning in Monette and one in a nearby town, Blankenship said Saturday.
“It’s just a lot of devastation that we haven’t seen in the years I’ve worked in the emergency services,” Blankenship said. “I’ve always feared it would come to my hometown, seeing the devastation in other cities over the years, but always just afraid it would hit here and reality hit last night.”
The power has also gone out in the city and Blankenship said he doesn’t know when it will be back.
“We are still without power. This morning shower and feeding units from various organizations will soon be arriving to help us,” said Blankenship. “There is no time limit or frame when electricity will be turned on because it takes up so much area.”
Blankenship praised the resident alert system and said it saved many lives. He said the system was activated about 15-20 minutes before the storm was detected 20 miles from Monette. He also said “twin towns” are helping Monette with this emergency.
Blankenship said he and his family should also take cover.
“We could hear the forces from outside,” Blankenship said. “I used to hear people say it sounded like a train or something along those lines and I thought, ‘It’s over for us now.'”
The mayor said the city was prepared.
“We’ve practiced and practiced, but it’s completely different when the reality is here,” he added.
Blankenship said a nursing home in Monette was badly affected, but many homes were also affected.
“I get a call that the nursing home has been hit,” Blankenship said. “Then there were several more houses and a residential area across the street from that nursing home. There were three houses that we know were destroyed there and several damaged there and no one injured.”
Blankenship also said that despite what happened, he is glad they were spared the worst.
“We’re glad Monette was spared the worst of these storms,” he said, adding that their hearts go out to the lives lost and their families.
Some context: At least 30 tornadoes were reported overnight, with Kentucky being the worst affected state.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said at least 50 people are expected to be killed.