Tuesday, August 11, 2009
D Is For Destruction
It's time again For ABC Wednesday. If you aren't participating in ABC Wednesday, you are missing out on a lot of fun. This week the letter is "D". D is for destruction. Tornadoes are one of natures most destructive forces.
At 8:01 pm on April 9, a tornado warning was issued for my hometown of Mena, Arkansas. Nine minutes later, an EF3 tornado struck the city and killed three people. Thirty people were injured and 600 homes were either damaged or destroyed. I took these pictures during the first two weeks after the tornado.
The Polk County Jail was severely damaged to the point that minor offense prisoners were released, with serious offenders taken to jails around the area. The Mena Regional Health System also sustained damage, but continued to treat patients and ran off auxiliary power. The high winds from the tornado threw a Rich Mountain Community College bus into a tree. The college buildings sustained significant damage and the campus has been closed since the tornado. The campus buildings have been repaired during the summer and the college is set to reopen soon.
The roof at the Mena Middle School was significantly damaged. The damage to the middle school was so severe that it had to be condemned. The tornado also heavily impacted the largest industry in town, Emerson Motor Technologies, and destroyed two businesses at the city's industrial park. The tire and lube section of Wal-Mart was damaged and was closed for several months.
After 4 months there are still many condemned buildings waiting to be demolished. Although a tremendous number of man hours have been put into the clean up, Mena is still far from recovering. I don't think that Mena will ever be the same. Over 11,000 trees were lost in the downtown area. Many of these trees were over 100 years old. The old part of town used to be so quaint with shady tree lined streets. Now with most of the trees gone, the openness look like a town on the prairie instead of a town nestled in the Ouachita mountains of Western Arkansas