Friday, May 2, 2008

May 2, 2008 - Damascus, AR Tornado

What a long day. I woke up at 3 am watching weather patterns and listening to local and national news. There were so many threats of tornados, and one after another they started coming down from the clouds in multiple states. There were many along the Missouri and Arkansas border but it was hard to tell how severe they were.

Around 8 am I spoke to someone at the emergency management offices for the state of Arkansas, and they confirmed that the city of Damascus had been severely hit. The equipment was packed in the trucks and ready to roll since we just finished the clean up in Des Arc the night before. We said our goodbyes to Sandra and the judge and headed out of town. Three hours later we arrived in Damascus. There was no way to block off the disaster zone because a main highway ran right through Damascus so it was easy for us to pull directly into the area. We parked our trucks on the side of the highway, and the men began to unload the equipment. The reports I was getting from the emergency managers on site were that three people had been killed and everyone else had been accounted for. Considering what the place looked like, this was good news.

As we were unloading the equipment from the trucks, my phone suddenly rang. Somehow a small town Red Cross representative got my number. The person on the other line went on to explain they got my number from emergency officials in AR, and they were in desperate need of a generator. Two adult communities and one nursing home had been hit by a tornado in Ava, MO. An estimated 87 people were gathering at the nursing home, and the town had no power. There were people on critically important breathing machines and other life-sustaining equipment, and they had no money to rent a generator large enough for the facility.

Standing in the rubble I had to make a decision. The situation in Damascus was bad but the search and rescue had been completed, and people were out of the rubble and safe now. The people of Ava, MO, needed power – some of them for machines that could save their lives. I decided to head north to Ava.

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