Wind Storms Leaves Wake of Damage, County a Disaster Area Due to Flooding

Thursday, May 11, 2017
This large tree, located at the corner of South Twelfth and Frisco Lane in Piggott, fell victim to the winds and blocked the street for several hours before being removed by city workers.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Strong winds pushed through the region late Thursday, leaving a wake of downed trees, limbs and utility lines. Several large trees were victimized by the winds in Piggott, including a large oak on Crestline which fell onto the bedroom of a local couple as they slept.

Ronny and Linda Dixon reported the large tree fell on the southwest corner their residence around 11:25 p.m. Thursday, collapsing the roof of the bedroom over their heads.

Friday morning the couple, along with a crew of sons and grandsons, began the clean-up process.

"We were sleeping when it happened, I tried to wake Linda but I think she got bumped on the head and may have been knocked-out for a second," Ronny Dixon said of the experience Friday morning.

"By the time he woke me up I was pinned to the bed by part of the ceiling," Linda offered.

Luckily, the couple escaped without serious injury despite being partially buried beneath ceiling material, rafters and a ceiling fan. The tree, with its roots fully exposed, likely succumbed to the high winds due to wet ground associated with the close proximity of a nearby creek.

“We responded to the 911 call at the Dixon residence, then spent several hours assisting the street and electric departments removing limbs and downed trees from streets around town,” Piggott fire chief Brian Haley noted. “It was a mess for awhile.”

Another large tree fell at the intersection of South Twelfth and Frisco Lane, blocking traffic and snarling utility lines in that location as well. A large pecan tree was also downed along nearby Circle Drive, and several other locations had large limbs blown across power lines and roadways.

City utility workers, assisted by members of the Piggott Police Department and the Piggott Fire Department, worked until the early hours of the morning clearing away debris and restoring power to those affected.

Disaster Declaration

Clay County Judge Mike Patterson has declared the county a disaster area due to the recent heavy rains and river flooding. The declaration coincides with a similar measure by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and allows county residents, businesses and farms to apply for assistance.

Despite the recent sunny weather, much of Clay County remains under water this week—especially in the western district where a number of roads remained closed as of Tuesday afternoon. Others continue to discover damage as they're finally able to get into farm shops, out buildings and other locations heavily impacted by the recent floods.

In response to the flooding, the American Red Cross has set-up a command center at the Corning Community Center. Other agencies have also visited the county, and a variety of local supply drives have been held, in addition to those collecting funds for flood victims.

“We still have a lot of ground underwater, and it's been hard for us to figure out how much damage we have to bridges and tiles when there's still this much water around,” Patterson noted. “But, we want the people of Clay County to know that we're here for them and we're going to get them all the help we can.”

In the past week Clay County Office of Emergency Management coordinator Alan Vaughn has spent countless hours trying to document all of the damage reports, which serve an important role when federal officials began their review.

“We've had a lot of people report their damage, but we've also had some that were going to get back to us and we haven't heard anything more from them,” he offered. “We need to document all of the damage for the federal officials and I encourage everyone to contact us with their details.”

Vaughn also noted rumors had been circulating that the deadline for reporting damage had passed, apparently prompting many property owners to fail to contact his office. He noted such rumors were not true, and encouraged all those suffering from damage to report it as soon as possible.

“We expect the FEMA officials to inspect damage in the county some time this week, probably Wednesday or Thursday, but they've been very busy,” Patterson added. “But, we need to make sure all the damage is accounted for so we encourage everyone with damage to give us a call.”

Vaughn also indicated his office would be seeking assistance for those impacted by last week's wind storms in the area. During the outbreak several trees were downed in the Piggott area, damaging homes and downing power lines. Meanwhile, a tornado destroyed one home and damaged several others near Corning.

“The current declaration is just for the flooding, but we hope it will be extended,” he added.

Vaughn noted his office can be reached from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 870 598-5365 or 870 598

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