JONESBORO — It has been nearly two months since the Dec. 10 tornadoes ripped through the northeast Arkansas region, and local communities are doing their best as they are still slowly recovering from the disaster.
Of the many towns affected, the communities of Monette, Trumann and Leachville were perhaps the hardest hit with two dead and many residents injured and/or homeless by the end of the night. Cities have also had to deal with power cuts and road hazards.
The tornadoes also appeared to bring communities together, as many residents and community leaders said they felt blessed and were reminded that kindness and love for neighbors still lives on as donations distribution centers were overwhelmed and people were coming from all over the United States to help. .
Monette Mayor Bob Blankenship said Monday morning they were doing pretty well, noting he was very happy they ‘dodged a bullet’ and managed to keep the power going through the ice storm. from last weekend.
Monette was hit Dec. 10 after a tornado touched down in Craighead County near County Road 403 at Lawson Road and quickly moved northeast, where it struck the home of nursing Monette Manor, killing a 94-year-old resident.
“The nursing home already has plans and is preparing to rebuild,” Blankenship said, noting that everything needed cleaning and structures were still being repaired or replaced.
The same tornado that hit Monette continued northeast, where it hit Leachville and took another life when it hit the Dollar General, killing the 52-year-old assistant manager when the store was demolished .
Leachville Mayor Rodney Robertson said Monday morning they’ve been at a bit of a standstill as they’re still waiting for insurance claim settlements and it’ll likely be around early March before they can go any further. .
Trumann was hit by another tornado that night as another tore through the city just before 9:30 p.m., severely damaging numerous structures and destroying many homes, as well as power outages that affected residents for days .
Unfortunately, this weekend’s ice storms knocked out the electricity again.
Trumann Mayor Barbara Lewallen said Monday that things are slowly getting back to normal, although she admits last weekend’s ice storm caused additional frustrations with power outages in Trumann.
“There were only two areas with Craighead Electric that didn’t lose power,” Lewallen said. She added that many Craighead Electric customers had lost power and all Entergy customers were off.
“After the tornadoes, the power companies were so quick they were powered up in three to four days,” Lewallen said, noting that this time crews were working in freezing weather and icy conditions. very slippery, which felt slower.
“I’m just thankful it wasn’t worse,” she said, “Luckily it was mostly sleet and not freezing rain.”
As for tornado cleanup efforts, Lewallen said the bulk of the cleanup is done except for some work that remains to be done in a few of the hardest hit areas.
She said Trumann’s SBA Business Recovery Center, which provided services to businesses affected by severe storms and tornadoes, is now closed; however, there are still a few SBA representatives at the FEMA rescue center.
Lewallen also noted that the FEMA Rescue Center was still accepting “individual assistance” requests for anyone still in need of help. She noted that FEMA might leave by this weekend, which is sooner than expected since they’re not getting that much traffic right now. FEMA was not due to leave on February 22.
She also said the city should soon get a response on the “state assistance” relief from FEMA that the city requested, which is different from individual relief.
“We are still working on it.” said Lewallen.