Tornado Slams Little Rock, Which Braces for Casualties

Severe storm is one of many threatening South, Midwest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2023 5:15 PM CDT
Tornado Slams Little Rock, Which Braces for Casualties
The interior of store is damaged after a severe storm swept through Little Rock on Friday.   (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo)

A tornado raced through Little Rock and surrounding areas Friday, splintering homes, overturning vehicles and tossing trees and debris on roadways as people raced for shelter. The city's main trauma center said it was expecting at least 15 to 20 patients, per the AP. A state emergency official reported heavy damage and said there's a "high probability" of multiple injuries. Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has already asked for National Guard help, per CNN, and Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency. Other areas of the South and Midwest were preparing for damaging storms, as well.

The twister tore first through neighborhoods in west Little Rock and shredded a small shopping center that included a Kroger store. It then crossed the Arkansas River into North Little Rock and surrounding cities, where widespread damage was reported to homes, businesses, and vehicles. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center in Little Rock was operating at a mass casualty level, a spokesperson said. Several people had already been transported to the medical center, but an exact count was not immediately available. Mark Hulsey, a special projects manager for Pulaski County, which includes Little Rock, said at least one person was in critical condition.

Niki Scott took cover in the bathroom after her husband called to say a tornado was headed her way. She could hear glass shattering as the tornado roared past and emerged afterward to find that her house was one of the few on her street that didn't have a tree fall on it. "It's just like everyone says. It got really quiet, then it got really loud," Scott said afterward, as chainsaws roared and sirens blared in the area. The Little Rock Fire Department reported heavy damage and debris in the western end of the city, saying on its Facebook page that firefighters were performing rescue operations in the area.

(More Little Rock, Arkansas stories.)

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