Arkansas, Craig Fugate, damage, EF3, El Paso AR, fatalities, Faulkner County AR, FEMA, Lake Maumelle AR, Mayflower AR, National Weather Service, Pulaski County AR, state police, tornadoes, Vilonia AR, White County AR
Faulkner County Ark. — A deadly tornado believed to be an EF3 or larger hit the towns of Mayflower and Vilonia here Sunday, damaging several hundred homes and killing 15 people. These towns are located northeast of Little Rock.
Tornadoes also hit Lake Maumelle, where three were reported killed in Pulaski County; and El Paso in White County, where one was killed, according to Arkansas State Police.
The National Weather Service at Little Rock said the tornado formed at Ferndale and set down a half mile wide and forty mile long path of destruction starting at I-40 through Mayflower and Vilonia at between 7:20 and 7:30 p.m. The tornadoes popped up in an unstable weather pattern that a spokesman for the Weather Service said occurs only every several years.
Teams from the National Weather Service are on site today measuring the tornado path and damage.
To view the Little Rock NWS Storm Report page, click HERE.
To view current situation reports from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, click HERE.
President Barack Obama this morning in a phone call to Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe expressed his concern and condolences. The President said he was directing Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Director Craig Fugate to travel to Arkansas “to ensure the appropriate federal resources are being brought to bear to support the state and local efforts.”
Convoy of Hope, a humanitarian relief organization based in Springfield, Mo., is sending assessment teams to the areas affected by tornadoes.
The Red Cross opened or helped operate shelters in affected areas and is distributing food and providing health and mental health services.
Although storms are called for again today, the weather patterns are not as unstable and the storms are not expected to be as severe. Wet weather is expected to clear Tuesday, according to the Weather Service.
Update: Gov. Mike Beebe Monday afternoon asked FEMA regional officials for a Major Disaster Declaration for Faulkner County. The verbal request is an unusual step, and will still be supported by damage assessments in the coming days. However, after statements of support from President Obama and Homeland Security officials, the opportunity to expedite help for Mayflower and Vilonia became evident. The request includes both Individual and Public Assistance. Federal disaster requests are still possible for other counties, as well.
Earlier Monday, Gov. Beebe issued State Disaster Declarations for Faulkner, Pulaski and White Counties. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate visited both Mayflower and Vilonia Monday afternoon.
As of 6:00 p.m. Monday, the confirmed death toll from the tornado stands at 15, with others still missing. State agencies continue to provide aid with searches, security, and the clearing of debris.