A storm damage crew from NOAA is expected to survey Drew County today to determine whether there was a tornado here Tuesday night.
“We have not seen anything that would indicate a tornado touching down but NOAA will be in Drew County today to assess the damage and determine if there was a tornado in the county,” said Monticello Police Chief Eddy Deaton. “I think they’re going to concentrate their survey south and east of the city limits of Monticello.”
Both Deaton and Monticello Mayor Allen Maxwell say they are surprised the city didn’t sustain more damage. “Everything held up pretty good,” Deaton said.
The city saw some traffic accidents, stranded vehicles, limbs in the roadways, damage to a business on U.S. 425 North and some flooding but it drained quickly, Deaton said.
Maxwell, who was at a basketball game when the storm came through Drew County Tuesday night, said the game was postponed briefly during the storm.
“They had us get out of the gymnasium and go sit in the hallway,” he said. “When it was all clear we went back in and they finished the game.”
After the high winds died down, Maxwell said he drove around the city and was surprised to discover there wasn’t more damage.
“I think the biggest damage was the horse barn at UAM,” he said. “I’m told it isn’t there anymore.”
High winds knocked down trees and tore the roof off of a mobile home east of Monticello. A Drew County teen also received a “shock” when her home was either struck by lightning or a blown transformer sent a surge into her home as she reached for an electrical device. She was not seriously injured, according to Drew County Sheriff Mark Gober.
Also, a tree limb fell onto the roof of a Drew County deputy’s patrol car while it was parked at his residence. The vehicle sustained moderate damage, a broken back glass and dent in the roof, Gober said.
South of the city, on the University of Arkansas at Monticello campus, winds blew a horse barn adjacent to the rodeo arena off its foundation. The barn was blown across the rodeo parking area and damaged three livestock trailers. The barn housed 11 horses owned by students who are members of the UAM rodeo team. None of the horses were injured during the storm, according to Rusty Jones, rodeo coach.
Winds also snapped a power line that ran east to west across the parking area and UAM’s indoor practice facility at the north end of Convoy Leslie-Cotton Bowl Stadium sustained minor damage. Three of four roll up doors were blown off their tracks but remained closed.
“We are fortunate that no one was injured during last night’s storm,” said UAM Chancellor Dr. Jack Lassiter. “While we regret the loss of property, we are gratified that everyone, including our rodeo livestock, came through the incident unscathed. I commend our Department of Public Safety as well as the Monticello Fire Department and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management for their rapid response.”
A NOAA storm damage team and Drew County’s new Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Michael Frisby were assessing damage Wednesday morning to determine if it was a tornado that caused the damage. Gober doesn’t believe it was.
“From what I’ve seen I don’t believe there was a tornado,” he said. “I think it was straight-line winds.”