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Storm brings FEMA, catastrophe teams to area counties

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

(Photo)
Observing the damage:
Observing the damage: Fulton County Judge Charles Willett and Fulton County 911 Coordinator David Keck check out damage to the home of William Hurtt in Glencoe. The damage was brought about by the April 2 storms which brought abnormally large hail to the area. Photo/Price

Large hail battered Fulton County April 2, leaving dozens homes and vehicles damaged.

Fulton County Judge Charles Willett, along with Fulton County Emergency Coordinator Albert Roork and Fulton County 911 Coordinator David Keck, went out with representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to survey the damage.

Willett said he knows of 61 houses that were damaged by the large hail, which ranged from golfball to softball size. He said houses with vinyl siding were especially hard hit. The hail also knocked holes through some roofs and broke windows in some houses.

Willett said the group that went out Thursday started by surveying the damage at the residence of Michael Howell on Bexar Road. The group ended the survey in Glencoe, which Willett said had been hit hardest by the storm. He said the worst damage was on Fairview Road. He said Glencoe had 16 houses that were damaged.

"I've never seen hail damage like this before," he said. He said the storm damaged primarily the northwest sides of homes.

Willett said more than 100 claims from Fulton County have been made to insurance agencies.

There was not much damage in Mammoth Spring or the northeast part of the county.

Stiles Grocery, approximately five miles east of Salem, sustained extensive damage. According to co-owner Patty Stiles, the hail broke a window, left a hole in the ceiling, damaged vehicles, damaged outside air conditioning units and damaged the scrolling sign outside of the business.

A rental manufactured home Willett owns was also damaged.

According to the National Weather Service in Little Rock, a funnel cloud was spotted one mile south of Glencoe on April 2. Hail estimated to be 4.25 inches in diameter was reported in the Fulton County portion of Hardy, and 1.75-inch hail was reported in Saddle.

The April 2 storm that battered Sharp County with up to softball-size hail is keeping insurance companies busy.

Hail measuring up to 4.75 inches in diameter was reported two miles north of Hardy. Hailstones 2.75 inches in Cherokee Village, 2 inches in Hardy and 1.75 inches in Highland caused extensive damage to property in the area.

Insurance catastrophe teams have been sent in to some insurance companies to handle the volume in claims.

State Farm agent Jim Haney said this is the first time catastrophe teams have been called into Sharp County.

Tents have been set up outside agencies to process automobile claims. The tents have reviewers, adjusters and check issuers all in one location. Catastrophe team members process approximately 130 vehicles each day for State Farm alone, Haney said.

"Some that come in have very little damage and some have been totalled," Haney said.

Teams for automobile claims will be in the area through Thursday, but teams for homes will be in the area longer, he said.

Danny Traw, owner of Danny's Auto in Ash Flat, said he had had approximately 400 calls from vehicle owners as of Thursday morning.

"I just tell them to wait and go through the tents," he said. "There's a lot of people affected and the purpose of having the tents is to make it easier. It's a one-stop shop."

The storms that rattled through Sharp County causing sporadic large hail also produced a tornado near Williford, according to the National Weather Service in Little Rock.

John Robinson, warning coordinator meteorologist, and Newton Skiles, senior forecaster, surveyed the damage in the county April 4 and determined it to be caused by an F1 tornado.

Fujita Tornado Scale, which measures a tornado's intensity, ranges from F-0 through F-5. The higher the number, the more devastating the storm.

The tornado, which began 2.8 miles southwest of Williford and traveled 2.5 miles in Sharp County, destroyed a sawmill building and damaged a barn and workshop. The storm also uprooted and snapped a few dozen trees.

The tornado continued east through Ravenden and Imboden, went south of Pocahontas to Lafe, where it grew in intensity as it approached Marmaduke with winds of 200 mph. The tornado measured approximately three-quarters of a mile in width, according to the National Weather Service in Memphis. The tornado had the longest track across the Midsouth.

The twister lifted 15 railroad cars off the track, injured 52 and killed one. Shelters were set up at churches to comfort those left homeless and shocked victims of the storms. A triage and treatment station was set up at Marmaduke High School, which was damaged in the storm.

Estimates range from 200-300 homes destroyed by the tornado in Marmaduke, according to various city and county officials, more damage than the city suffered by a tornado in 1997.

The tornado continued into Caruthersville, Mo., and damaged almost every home in the southern half of the city, according to the service.

The storm began as a stationary front draped across the central third of the state April 1. The storms broke out across the region the next afternoon. During the storm system, five tornados were reported.

Arkansas generally sustains 20-22 tornadoes each year. Approximately 62 percent are F-0 and F-1 storms. Thirty-six percent are F-2 and F-3 tornadoes, and only 2 percent range to the most violent twisters, F-4 and F-5.



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