Three killed in New Year’s Eve tornado
WASHINGTON COUNTY—Three people were killed and many more were injured in an early morning storm that unleashed a tornado on Cincinnati, located in Washington County.
According to the National Weather Service office in Tulsa, Okla., the tornado started near Westville, Okla. and ended west of Tontitown in Washington County. Reports of it hitting Cincinnati came at 6:17 a.m. The EF3 tornado is estimated to of had winds up to 140 mph. The exact width and path had not been determined as of 4:30 p.m. Friday.
According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the three fatalities were all in the Cincinnati area: Gerald Dean Wilson, 88, and his wife, Mamie Wilson, 78, were found dead in their destroyed home on Arkansas Highway 59 North. The third fatality was James Richard “Dick” Murray, 78, who was believed to be milking cows on his dairy farm when the tornado hit. He was found in a dairy barn on his farm.
Storm damage and injuries were reported in at least three Arkansas counties including Washington, Benton and Madison counties. The Cincinnati Fire Department was destroyed, as were numerous mobile and brick homes. Debris from Cincinnati and the surrounding area was found as far as Bentonville, which is central Benton County. Chicken houses in extreme north Washington County were destroyed, littering the area with chickens. The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) was temporarily closed and many flights delayed or cancelled because of debris on the runways.
The Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the American Red Cross is in disaster mode in response to the tornado. Volunteers are deployed to all the affected areas assessing damage and working with area Offices of Emergency Management. A command center is operating in Cincinnati at the Methodist Church. Donations are being accepted online at www.redcrossnwa.org and chapter offices in Tontitown are open and staffed.
Local, regional and national media have been covering the disaster. Ongoing coverage including pictures, video and stories can be found at sites such as:
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