A strong band of storms moved through Logan County around 9 p.m. Sunday packing high winds, heavy rain and something that sounded and looked lie a tornado, according to two witnesses.
Major structural damage was reported in Booneville. Structural damage in the Paris area was relatively light. Some structural damage was reported in areas north of the Paris City limits. The storm caused widespread power outages that lasted as long as six hours.
"We probably had 500 people without power from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m.," said Roger Goodson, supervisor of the Paris electricity department. "The OG&E line feeding our smaller substation went dead."
The storm also knocked out power in portions Logan County. Southwestern Electric Power Company reported 454 outages in Logan County and crews were out in the Magazine area around midnight and again Monday morning.
Around 8:45 p.m. Sunday, the storm moved through Booneville ripping off the roof of a building on the northwest corner of the First and Broadway intersection. The building housed a State of Arkansas Revenue Department office and Eccles Pediatric and Internal Medicine. The storm also blew the debris from the roof into both Broadway Street and Crowley’s City Service station, knocking out the front glass and tearing off the awning.
None of the businesses were open so there were no injuries reported.
The storm damaged a carport attached to a home on North Elm Street in Paris. Tree fell on two residences in Paris and severed their connection to city power lines, Goodson said.
William Watts, who lives at 1305 Highway 309 near Paris was standing on his front porch between 9 p.m. and 9:10 p.m. when the storm struck.
"I saw a huge cone in the sky," he said. "It was moving fast and the sky was turning orange. It moved through within five minutes. I’ve never seen a storm move that fast. It sounded like a freight train. I’ve seen tornadoes before. There was a cone and there was rotation."
Booneville Police Department officer Norman Wilder was surprised to find one vehicle damaged and another buried in the metal from the roof after the storm subsided.
"We couldn’t see anything when we responded, it was still over us," Wilder said.
The vehicles were parked in front of the building that bears the name of Wertz. One belongs to Victor Besgulow, the second was parked there by his daughter because she was out of town. In an upstairs apartment inside that building is where Victor Besgulow lives.
"There was this roaring noise. I couldn’t believe it," Besgulow said. "I looked out my kitchen window and all I could see was a big sign or something, but I guess it was the metal flying off that roof."
Besgulow compared the sound to a railroad and added it looked as if the walls of the building were moving.
"Most of the time I can look over and see the flag flying (at the U.S. Post Office)," said Besgulow. "I guess it was windy, you couldn’t see anything, all you could hear was noise.
Besgulow said he considers himself lucky the debris did not fly any more toward his home than it did, but he was not frightened.
"If God wants you there’s nothing you can do. You can’t hide," said Besgulow.
Next door Mike Crowley, City Service employees and others were in cleanup mode and boarding up broken windows. Across the street Dr. Richard Eccles and his staff and volunteers hastily moved everything in his practice to an office two doors down.
"We’re so thankful to the community for pitching in and helping," said Eccles. "This reinforces the reason why we are in Booneville."
Despite the incident and an expected interruption of service Eccles was upbeat Sunday night due to secure servers.
"This is the wonderful thing about electronic medical records," said Eccles. "All our computer data was safe and secure and we will not miss a beat as far as health care goes."
Shortly after Eccles’ office was hastily moved, Arkansas Highway Department workers used backhoes to push the debris off Broadway, which is also Highway 23.
A fencing barrier was put in place around the edge of the material in front of the Revenue Office and EPIM and caution tape was placed outside Crowley’s City Service.