A massive tornado struck the city of Jonesboro, Arkansas, on Saturday ar around 5 p.m local time, which left a devasting path of damage in its wake. Photos and videos shared on social media afterward showed that multiple buildings were obliterated, cars crushed by debris, and numerous homes left in the wreckage.
Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley reported that the Mall at Turtle Creek was flattened and that local authorities were in the midst of doing search and rescue in the area. Thus far, there were no immediate reports of major injuries or fatalities. As reported by KAIT 8, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin issued a city-wide curfew at 7 p.m. local time for authorities to further assess the damage.
Maps of the tornado show that it cut right through the heart of Jonesboro before traveling northeast. The storm first touched down near Amagan before hitting Jonesboro. Afterward, the storm strengthened and headed toward Brookland and approached Brighton. KATV reporter James Bryant tweeted that debris from the tornado reached 20,000 feet.
Scattered debris from the tornado stretched five miles from the storm’s center. The map above shows a clear path that the twister took after it made landfall.
Jonesboro Suffered The Hardest Hit From The Tornado, A Devastating Blow To The City Amid Coronavirus
Video of what’s known as a “Power Flash” was captured by local Lee Curtner, which means the area is suffering from severed power lines and residents may find themselves without power in the aftermath of the storm. Craighead Electric reported KAIT 8 that their Farville substation was out due to the storms. Jonesboro CWL also reported significant damage to its facility from the Caraway Road/Race Street intersection, which is located northeast to the Farville area.
Pictures on Twitter showed the extent of the tornado’s damage in Caraway, which is located in the middle of Jonesboro. Buildings were completely obliterated, including a local dry cleaner and Gateway Tire of Arkansas. Other buildings and businesses that have reported damage in the area include Cheddar’s Restaurant on Red Wolf, Doty Realty on Caraway Road, Magic Touch on Caraway Road, Ulta on Caraway Road, Wildwood subdivision in Jonesboro, Kirkland’s, and the Best Buy in Jonesboro.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson tweeted, “I am paying close attention to the report of a tornado hit in Jonesboro. I know there is property damage. Just praying all is safe.” He also designated Sunday as “Special Day of Prayer,” after a natural disaster hit the community during the pandemic coronavirus.
Upon seeing the scale of the damage in the Jonesboro area, users online tweeted their thoughts and prayers to residents in the area, noting how tragic it must be for such a storm hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March 26, Arkansas had recorded 310 patients testing positive for coronavirus and two deaths, according to NBC News.
One person tweeted, “The only positive I can find is that due to the virus and closed businesses, there weren’t more people out and about and in the path. That thing escalated from a dark cloud to a massive tornado in less than a minute. Take care Jonesboro.