Robin Willhite 3


The National Weather Service has confirmed an EF-1 tornado in Halley, a community east of Dermott near the Desha and Chicot County line. The tornado was part of the 2013 Winter Solstice storms that ripped through Southeast Arkansas.

Five homes received major damage and power poles were snapped in the tornado’s nearly 7-mile path.

Robin Willhite, of Halley, said she was in her mobile home with her 3-year-old daughter around 4:45 p.m. Saturday when she heard the howling winds. Seconds later, she heard a loud “bang.” It was her storage building, fashioned from a rail car, slamming into her home. She said she received a tornado warning on her cell phone about 15 minutes after it passed.

Willhite, pictured above, is standing where the storage building once stood. It was blown from its original location, across a filled above-ground swimming pool, to her mobile home about 50 feet away.

Her neighbor’s mobile home was also damaged. The lawn was littered with debris and Christmas decorations. Twisted metal and insulation hung from the trees.

Neither Willhite, her daughter, nor her neighbors were injured but two truckers were injured on Highway 65 in the area when their vehicles were flipped in the high winds.