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The Jackson Sun from Jackson, Tennessee • Page 8
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The Jackson Sun from Jackson, Tennessee • Page 8

The Jackson Suni
Jackson, Tennessee
Issue Date:

8A Tornado aftermath The Jackson Sun, Jackson, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 1987 Vx tx -i Sun Dhoto bv Jav Meisel old son, Phillip, damaged their home. It also destroyed a grocery after a tornado store just minutes after they left it. Race fans spared fury of twister Gitnnatt New Sorvlce WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. The tornado that ripped through this city Monday night just missed Southland Greyhound Park, where 8,334 fans were watching the season's closing night of dog racing. i Lou Derteen, the track's general manager, said racing were suspended after seven of 12 scheduled races. i- "We heard it. It was like a freight train going through. Our lights blinked on and off about four times and then we went dark." He said the crowd moved back from the front windows and then emergency generator went on, bringing the lights back on. "We had a pretty orderly exodus," he said. "Some stayed and cashed their tickets. The only bad feature, if you want to call it that, is that we had to carry wheelchair patrons down the steps. I think there were nine." Much of the rest of West Memphis was not so fortunate. The downtown Tuesday was choked with downed trees, utility poles and lines and debris. Pieces of metal were wrapped around tree limbs. Several dozen trucks parked along Interstate 40 were damaged. Businesses for several hundred yards 'along the city's main thoroughfare, Broadway, were ripped up. On the edge of the destruction along Broadway, windows that were covered with Christmas decorations at Broadway Furniture Co. were blown out, but hand paintings of Santa Claus were visible on glass that remained in frames. At Tri-County Meat Market, awnings were ripped off and windows blown out. Down the street, a used-car lot and a gas station beside it were destroyed, cars scattered like lumber. Debris filled the street. The second floor of a television repair shop was missing, and a blue-and-white pickup truck was upside down in front of the store. Police Lt. Gary Gitchell said West Memphis does not have a warning siren but the tornado descended so suddenly that one might not have helped. "Last night it was just here," he said of the tornado. "It was that quick." Mayor Keith Ingram said Tuesday that a sudden change in temperature, from cold to unseasonably warm, should have been warning enough of the deadly tornado. What remained of the Fountainhead Apartments stood against the black sky at 2 a.m. Tuesday as rescue workers used flashlights and spotlights on fire trucks to search the rubble for survivors. Metal stairways were twisted skyward. Inside one damaged apartment, a little girl's dresser stood apparently untouched, topped with perfume bottles and a stuffed animal. Mary Spears, a church volunteer at the West Memphis Community Center, remembered "real cold, then for about 30 minutes or an hour it got so hot you had to pull your coat off." "It was blazing hot outside and the sky was red, red," she said. "The next thing I knew there was torrential rain and the sound. It sounded like 20 jets taking off." John Frasure, manager of the West Memphis Holiday Inn, said the hotel gave victims and rescue workers free rooms. Ingram said he appreciated the work of volunteers and the many offers of assistance, including those from the cities of Memphis, Jonesboro and Wynne. Ingram said donations of food and clothing may be made to the Red Cross. The West Memphis Chamber of Commerce has started a relief fund and "we've already started to receive donations," Ingram said. Jerol Garrison, a spokesman for Arkansas Power and Light said the company had five big transmission lines out of service in the West Memphis area. "There are 10 steel towers down on that system near West Memphis," he said. "That (500-kilovolt) line is out of service, but no customers are affected because we are able to provide power over other transmission lines to that area." TORNADO From Page 1A Leon McGoogan, director of the OES, said the $100,000 will be the state's 25 percent matching cost if the federal government also declares the area a disaster area. Federal funds provide 75 percent, state funds 25 percent, of disaster relief costs if a federal disaster is declared, McGoogan said. If only a state disaster is declared, he said, the $100,000 will be used to provide rent subsidies for disaster victims, grants to aid families in the emergency, and payment of the cost of limited home repairs. The city has no emergency warning system. But Ingram said officials agreed "that sirens in this case would have had no effect whatsoever. This tornado appeared out of nowhere." Officials said 35 businesses, 100 homes and a 200-unit apartment complex were destroyed or severely damaged in the town of 28,000, across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tenn. "It looked like a bomber came through and leveled our area," said police Lt. Gary Gitchell. "Some homes have got such bad places in the roofs or end walls gone, that it's just not feasible for the people to stay there. It's not safe." Deputy Coroner Bart Benson identified the dead as 1-year-old Helen Beasley of West Memphis; John David Russell 17, of West Memphis, whose body was found on a grocery store parking lot; Charlie Perry, 66, of Memphis, found in his car near the intersection of Interstate 55 and Interstate 40; Edith Angus, 48, of West Memphis, found in a field near the downtown area; Terry Lee Taylor, 31, of West Memphis, and Tammy Gunn, 29, of Memphis, who was found under a car at a truck stop. OES spokesman Gary Talley said 28 of the injured were admitted to hospitals, two of them in critical condition. Police used dogs Tuesday to search through the rubble of destroyed buildings as crews strung new power lines for 4,000 people without service. Arkansas Power Light Co. spokesman Jerol Garrison said Tuesday night that the storm knocked five of high voltage transmission lines out of service. He said steel towers were blown down on a 500 kilovolt transmission line that runs from LR are to West Memphis and 28 wooden structures were downed or damaged on four 161 kilovolt transmission lines that serve areas in and around West Memphis. Only one of the lines, a 161 kilovolt line feeding Gateway Substation at West Memphis, is affecting service to customers because the utility routed power over other transmission lines to provide power normally delivered over the damaged lines, he said. "There's several hundred customers that are without power because that line is out, both in West Membhis and in industrial and residential areas outside the city," Garrison said. "We hope to have it back in service within a couple of days." He said the other smaller lines should be back in service within a week but that damage to the 500 kilovolt line would take up to a month to repair. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. said 29,000 feet of cable would have to be replaced and that it would be a week before service is restored to all customers. The twister blew out store windows, scattered cars like lumber at a dealership, ripped the second floor off a television repair shop and turned vehicles topsy-turvy. Ingram said mobile buildings possibly could be brought in to serve as temporary classrooms at an elementary school which was destroyed. A few people briefly looted a grocery store Monday night after it collapsed in the storm, but Gitchell said police were keeping most people out of damaged areas. About 60 people were in a shelter set up by the Red Cross at the West Memphis Civic Center Tuesday. Talley said other went to motels. More than 120 cots were set up in the center and the mayor said more people could be housed if needed. Authorities late Tuesday said only a minimal number of people were taking advantage of the shelter. i "vT jty '-xTi Laura Goodman and her 13 month huddle in the Red Cross shelter -wvs SURVIVORS From Page 1A said. Tommy Smith, 13, said he didn't cry when the strong winds blew out the windows of his home. He got under a table and "put pillows over my head," he said. Later he took his 3-year-old brother out of his house. "I was scared, but I stayed calm," he said. For Archie Wilson, the tornado struck so fast that he didn't have time to be scared. When the tornado hit the apartment building, he went into another room. The winds tore off the front of the apartment building, leaving the three apartments naked. Wilson and other residents of the small complex gathered their belongings Tuesday afternoon. Roy B. and Vena Mai Rushing traveled more than 80 miles from Jackson to West Memphis when Mrs. Rushing couldn't contact her aunt, Katherine Cooper, at home. Katherine Cooper and her husband, W.B. Cooper, appeared in good spirits despite extensive damage to their house. "It happened so fast we didn't know what happened," Mrs. Cooper said. Bill Ester, who also was staying at the shelter, lost everything because his house was not insured, he said. He was at home when he heard the wind "twisting and turning. I started then to hear people hollering and screaming. It was awful," he said. Ester left the and ran down the street; when he came back he found the structure "demolished." Eula Johnson had just put her 4-year-old son, Antonio, to bed when the house caved in. "He was holding me around the neck and I was holding him," she said. Johnson is thankful that she and her son were spared, even though the house was destroyed. Help was on the way, however. The Rev. James Cooper, a city council member, whose funeral home and two nursing homes suffered heavy damage, plans to seek disaster aid. A group of Mississippi Menonites, who do construction work for free, was scheduled to arrive as residents picked up the pieces of their homes and their lives. AP Laserphoto An aerial view of the destruction that a tornado caused in a West Memphis residential neighborhood when it struck late Monday. The twister caused six deaths, more than 130 injuries and an estimated $22 million in damages, authorities said. Pacific storm adds to brutality of weather that has killed 65 1 -x Southwest, blizzard conditions in the Midwest and tornadoes in the South. The system blew from the Great Lakes into Maine overnight, smothering parts of the state under as much as a foot of snow, much to the delight of ski resort operators. More snow was expected to fall in the state's northeastern section, changing to a mixture of rain and snow along the coast before ending on Thursday. Wind, combined with up to 14 inches of snow in the Midwest on Tuesday snapped power lines, tore loose trees and caused widespread power outages, including ones that affected 170,000 Chicago-area residents and 114,000 people across Michigan. Anatomy of Xv: 2. Wrm sir collides a tornaao i iihihtcooirif tCL I ol lh tlrssm and 7 begin lo Iwltt. JET STREAM -y liJff ZJ ZTV1 1. Warm air 3. As velocity Increases, 53 slorm system. more warm sir Is drawn up the low pressure area rl A created In the center 1 WjfjS i.ah......... ol the Wp-JV-N YSTEM fyr Wi''ff1 begins to drop tf, JM i Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Mike Gage said. The homeless man, who carried no identification, had a body temperature 20 degrees below normal, authorities said. Gale warnings were posted for most of the California coastline, and storm and high-wind warnings were issued for the central coast. could call it the sister of this storm," said Roy Pringle of the National Weather Service in Milwaukee, referring to the storm that began over the weekend and closed Chicago's O'Hare Airport and schools in 11 states. Millions of Americans spent Tuesday cleaning up from record snowfalls in the Th Associated Press West Coast residents braced today for ah Intense Pacific storm expected to sweep across the nation like the system blamed for Midwest blizzards, Southern tornadoes and at least 65 deaths. As the new storm crawled east, a homeless man died in a doorway in Los National Guard armories across California opened their doors to the homeless on the order of Gov. George Deukmejian, and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley directed city recreation centers to do the same. "This is supposed to be a whacking big storm, and the shelters will stay open as long(as the weather is as bad as it is,"

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