April showers, May flowers?

Story by Greta Goslee, Student Reporter

The spring 2018 semester began with tornado warnings in nearby Pike County. Shortly after this set of storms, campus police began planning a campus-wide tornado drill, but it did not happen this semester.

The effects of tornadoes and tornado preparedness are back in the spotlight once again after storms over this past weekend. A storm system quickly moved through Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri, leaving a wide path of damage.

At around 2 p.m. on Friday, April 13 the system was declared by the National Weather Service as a “particularly dangerous situation” in northeastern Texas and the majority of Arkansas with Arkadelphia very clearly in the predicted path of the storm.

Around 4 p.m., the storm moved into Northwest Arkansas. Residents of Fort Smith, Van Buren and surrounding towns were warned to be prepared by local meteorologists. Mountainburg was the first town in Arkansas severely damaged by the storm.

In the town of 700, storms cause damage to 160 buildings, including six homes that were classified as “completely destroyed” by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. 2,000 residents of Mountainburg and surrounding communities were left without electricity as many power lines were down.

Injuries caused by the EF-2 tornado in Mountainburg were fairly minimal with four hospitalized. One woman went into labor at a shelter.

Around 10 p.m. the storm made its way to Central Arkansas. A residence hall at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway faced damage to the roof, but all students were evacuated and there were no injuries reported.

Thankfully, the storms caused minimal injury but the damage will require many hours of disaster relief in many areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri.

In Arkadelphia, it felt like any other humid afternoon with gray skies that occasionally let a peek of sun and blue sky through. The storms in Southwest Arkansas were less severe than predicted, but would Arkadelphia be prepared if there had been a situation similar to that of Mountainburg or even UCA?

“Tornadoes are hard to prepare for, even if you’re just a family, let alone a whole college campus. I think that it would be really difficult to herd that many people to a safe space should they have to, but drills and knowledge about procedure would help to streamline the process,” said Easton Cowart, junior communication major.

Senior psychology and Spanish double major, Kayla Ann Kaster was in Hot Springs at her dad’s house on Lake Hamilton. They sat on the porch watching the storms roll in “from the front porch – barefoot, in true Arkansas fashion,” she said. She says she was “gratefully underwhelmed” by the storms “because we were being prepared for a dangerous tornado that was thankfully just a thunderstorm.”