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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

High winds lift Salem home from foundation

Thursday, May 15, 2003

The Quentin Griggs family was awakened May 6 by the roaring sound of high winds which lifted their home off its foundation. They had lived in the home on Highway 395 in Salem for the past six years.

The storm that damaged the house cut a wide swath of destruction and led Fulton County Judge Curren Everett to declar the county a disaster area.

Griggs said his wife, Rachel, woke him up when the wind destroyed the windows of their wood-frame home that night. "I put Rachel and our son in the bathtub," he said. "It picked our house up. I've seen straight line winds and they don't twist limbs like that."

Griggs said he is convinced a tornado caused the damage to the couple's home even though one was never confirmed. He said the roaring lasted around four to five minutes and was so deafening the family did not hear the large trees near the house being uprooted and crashing to the ground. Griggs guessed the winds blowing inside the home were approximately 40 mph.

"When the house was picked up I got scared. When you're at the mercy of Mother Nature all you can do is hope and pray," he said.

The roof of the home was damaged by toppled Ash trees. The family is staying with Grigg's mother, Georgie Griggs, in Salem.

The following morning, as Griggs was surveying the aftermath of the storm, his wife was undergoing final examinations at Ozarka College in Melbourne.

Griggs' said his son, Wesley, 8, was worried about the family cat, Bobo, who was missing during the storm. His son told him he would place posters about the missing cat around town, but luckily Bobo came home the next day.

Fulton County Emergency Management Coordinator Albert Roork said he received reports of damages in Camp, Mammoth Spring and Viola. He said hundreds of trees made roads impassable throughout the county.

Scott Watkins, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officer, found three dead Bald Eagles, a mother with two babies, along the South Fork River in the Heart area.

Roork estimated the strong winds gusted around 100 mph but was not the result of a tornado.

David Keck, Fulton County 9-1-1 coordinator, said firefighters from numerous departments were busy the night of the storm cleaning debris from the roads for two to three hours.

Everett is meeting with representatives from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management mid-week to travel throughout the county to survey storm damage assessments.

According to Mel Coleman, chief executive office of NAEC, around 8,000 members of the co-op lost power during the storm. While there were outages all over NAEC territory, the most severe damage was located in Fulton County and the northern portions of Sharp County.

Most of the outages were due to straight-line winds, Coleman said. Crews began working around 9:30 p.m. and continued until the following day around 5 p.m. when the last of the outages were reconnected.

James Kerley, operations manager, said trees and debris that had fallen into power lines and blocked roadways caused most of the problems.

Updates on where crews were and progress made were provided to area radio stations regularly while stressing the need for citizens to take extra safety precautions with downed power lines. Coleman emphasized that customers need to always assume any downed power line is energized.

This was the second major outage NAEC has experienced in the past six months due to inclement weather, Coleman reported.

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