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Monette community begins cleanup process after deadly storms devastate city

Heavy storms ripped through the northeastern part of Arkansas Friday night, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

MONETTE, Ark. — Heavy storms ripped through the northeastern part of Arkansas Friday night, leaving a path of destruction in it's wake.

As the sun began to rise Saturday, those in the most heavily damaged areas began to pick up the pieces.

"You can see the 2x4 sticking in the house," Wayne Ray, a resident of Monette said. "That's the room I was sleeping in, that bedroom. Hit that window, it busted that one little pane in the bathroom there."

Monette saw the brunt of the damage in northeast Arkansas. 

Ray was visiting his sister, Ernestine, for the holidays. Her home was damaged, but not nearly as bad as their neighbors across the street.

"What the wind speed was inside the tornado, I don't know," Ray said. "It was pretty strong damage that we've seen since it hit, just looking at it."

Their neighbor is the Monette Manor, a retirement home in the city, with the damage done to the building catching the attention of Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

"This is the sort of center point of the damage, obviously Leachville and many other cities damaged as well," Gov. Hutchinson said. "I thought it was important to be here in Monette, sort of the center point and where we had significant amounts of property damage and loss of life."

Gov. Hutchinson toured what remains of the Manor Saturday. 

Cars were tossed like toys and shipping containers ended up in trees, serving as a testament to how strong the winds were.

"Obviously the families in this circumstance are with their loved ones in the hospital or in another facility," Gov. Hutchinson said. "It just illustrates the incredible damage that was done here that no one is here today."

After the storm ripped through Friday night, 20 residents were stuck inside. Thankfully they were rescued, but five more people were injured and one person has died.

The Mayor of Monette, Bob Blankenship, said he's grateful to all who stepped in to make sure casualties weren't worse. He said they'll build back stronger, which shows their strength as a community.

"Just to see those men and women working. The nurses, the doctors that came. The emergency staff that went in to move debris to get the patients out. It just makes you feel good to be part of northeast Arkansas and be a part of America."


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