RISON, Ark – Wednesday night part of Arkansas experienced severe weather, with heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms. The National Weather Service says the damage came from thunderstorm winds of 85 miles per hour. One of the hardest areas hit was the City of Rison.
Mayor Charles Roberts says he is working with the Department of Emergency Management surrounding clean-up questions.
Rison Utility Director John Freyer said they weren’t expecting the level of damage they received.
“It looked like it was going to go around us at one point yesterday and then the winds came and the hail came,” Freyer said.
He says he believes they have made headway on the clean-up Thursday morning but one of the biggest surprises was the damage caused by the strong winds.
“Just high winds, several calls of power outages and as you can see in the background several roof damages and property damages,” Freyer said.
He said the main focus on Thursday was to make sure everyone was okay.
“Making sure the city wastewater is taken care of. We had power outages last night so things are great this morning. We never had any problems with water or wastewater and so just helping people and clearing lots like we did here and trying to keep the bank in business today,” said Freyer.
Mother of two Danielle Bell says Wednesday’s severe weather came quickly and was “crazy.”
“It was kind of crazy how much damage had happened,” Bell said.
Bell says before the wind kicked up into high gear, her family was having fun outside.
“We were playing, my kids were jumping on the trampoline,” Bell said.
However, she says in a matter of minutes that all changed.
“I could see some lighting coming in the distance and I had told my husband maybe we should bring the kids inside,” Bell stated.
She says once she got the kids inside, things started to fly around like the trampoline her children were just on.
“The trampoline was right here and as it was going it had lifted up because of the net and as the net caught the wind it had flipped multiple times,” Bell said.
Bell says it landed on the side of her neighbor’s house but thankfully the home received no damage. She also says she is grateful for her motherly instincts.
“I could have lost my kids and that is something that I’m going to remember,” Bell stated.
Bell adds her home did have slight damage to the roof because of the storm, however, they tarped the areas on Thursday.
Close to Bell’s home, Pastor Melvin Rauls says his church’s roof suffered major damage with huge metal pieces flying off and landing around his church. But he says their faith is keeping them grounded.
“It’s kind of sad but what can I do but give God thanks in the midst of it all,” Rauls said.
Bell says she hopes Thursday night is not as bad as Wednesday but she is proud of the City of Rison for helping each other out.
“Everyone has rallied together to try to help clean up,” Bell said.
Officials are urging those in Rison to be cautious Thursday night and to be safe.