ARKANSAS (KTHV) - Multiple people died and there was mass destruction following a tornado that swept through central Arkansas on Sunday night.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) said they are responding to multiple fatality reports in Vilonia, White County, and Faulkner County. The tornado ripped through the area around 7 p.m. and continued creating destruction for more than an hour. It was first spotted in the Pinnacle Mountain/Maumelle area, then moved up to Mayflower, then to Vilonia, and over to Searcy.
ADEM told THV 11 News that the death toll of the tornado is now at 15, not 16 as previously reported. Only three deaths reported in Pulaski County, not five.
ADEM requested the help of the Arkansas National Guard who activated 46 members to send to Mayflower and Vilonia
Interstate 40 in both directions near Mayflower was shut down due to multiple wrecks, including overturned trucks and destroyed vehicles.
Homes in Mayflower and Vilonia are flattened, according to Sheriff Andy Shock with the Faulkner County Sheriffs Office. At least 11 fatalities have been reported in Faulkner County alone, according to ADEM. The Sheriff's Office reported Monday morning that two of the fatalities have been confirmed as children.
"It's just devastating," Shock said over the phone Sunday night.
Deputy Coroners are scouring the area looking for people; the worst hit area seems to be South Beryl Road, according to Shock.
Brandon Morris with ADEM said one person is confirmed dead in White County. The White County Coroner, David Powell, said that person was found "a distance" from his home north of El Paso on Highway 5. Lt. Carl Minden with Pulaski County Sheriff's Office said three people died along the 4000 block of Deer Drive in Pulaski County; Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay said those who died were a dad and two teenage daughters. ADEM reported two additional fatalities in Pulaski County, but the locations of those deaths are not known at this time; several other people were transported to an area hospital. The hardest hit areas, which Minden said has "tremendous damage," is along Gibson Road and Somerset Estates along the Pulaski/Saline county line.
Morris said his agency is receiving requests for more ambulances and requests for National Guard help to clear congested roads in the area. The two roads needing the most attention, according to Morris, is I-40 and Highway 365 in Faulkner County.
While some volunteer organizations are working to help the area, Morris asks that individuals do not attend to the areas themselves.
The damage in Vilonia is widespread, but details are not yet known. We do know Vilonia Intermediate School, which was set to open in the fall, is destroyed and flattened to the ground.
Fatalities by County:
- Faulkner - 11
- Pulaski - 3
- White - 1