One year ago today the face of Mena changed drastically. An F3 tornado damaged a large section of town. 100 houses were destroyed and 600 damaged. Over 10,000 trees were destroyed. Although the community has done an awesome job of rebuilding, it will never look the same.
I wrote the following paragraphs a few hours after the tornado hit.
Tonight at around 7:30 the tornado sirens sounded here in Mena. Gina and I went to the safe place in our house, the downstairs hallway. About that time our electricity went out. The storm passed without damage here at the house. We were thankful that we were spared.
After the storm passed and the stars came out, I decided to drive into town to see if anyone had electricity. When I got to downtown, I started to see storm damage and saw that the authorities were not letting people proceed to the north side of Mena.
I drove to my parents house to see if they were OK, and they were fine with no damage to their house or property. I drove on to the church but saw no damage there. I thought that the storm may not have been to bad, but by the time I returned home, the phone was ringing off the hook with reports of severe damage.
The first news reports stated that the Polk County Sheriff's Department reports one person was killed after a tornado swept through the town Thursday night.
Severe storms moving through the area shortly after eight o'clock tonight spawned the twister.
As damage assessment began, KARK was told a 25 block area that included the Polk County Courthouse and Mena City Hall took a direct hit from the tornado. There are 12 minor injuries in the city.
Governor Beebe has sent 30 National Guard members to the city for help.
The Arkansas State Police tells KARK 4 there is extensive damage to homes and businesses throughout the city of Mena.
We received a call from a friend telling us that our good friend Deanna had a lot of damage to her house, and her car was totaled. Just before the storm him, Deanna was on the phone with Gina telling her that she was in the closet and she was scared. We have not been able to talk to her since. We don't know what we will find when we are able to get into the the area. Just a couple of blocks from her house, there were 20 or more people in the Masonic Lodge when it collapsed. There is one known fatality on the street where Deanna lives.
We have had friends staying with us this evening, because they were not able to get home. The National Guard is in town and not letting anyone into the severely damaged area. There was damage at RMCC, the community college, and at Wal-Mart. There is damage at U.S. Motors where Gina operates the Credit Union. We have not been able to find out the extent of the damage.
I need to go to sleep, but probably sleep won't come. I don't know what tomorrow will bring.
Click on the photo above to purchase my latest book, In the Fog, for $5.99. The Kindle version is only $2.99.
I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled The Little Things - Devotionals from a small town, using articles from the column. I published the second book in the Devotionals from a small town series, titled In the Fog, in December 2017.