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Winds Leave Behind Damage, Power Outages in NW Arkansas

ROGERS, Ark --Strong winds rushed through northwest Arkansas Wednesday afternoon, leaving behind a lot of damage.
ROGERS, Ark --Strong winds rushed through northwest Arkansas Wednesday afternoon, leaving behind some destruction.

 At least 20 buildings were damaged or destroyed by high winds at Fort Chaffee on Wednesday.

Lt Col. Keith Moore says no one was injured. Army Reserves are assessing the damage which includes downed trees and power lines.  Moore says power is down all around the grounds.

In Rogers, Donovan Golden, Program director at The Boys And Girls Club in Rogers said he heard a big boom, and saw the mess that followed.

"It was really loud and we knew right away that it had done some damage to the playground."

Golden said the kids are always on the playground, but Wednesday afternoon, mother nature had a different plan.

Donovan said, "We had just brought the kids inside because it was getting really windy. Things were blowing against the glass and so we were keeping everyone in the middle of the gym."

When director of operations, Kevin Crow saw the damage, he took matters into his own hands. "Our course of action was we went to go get supplies and materials to get us rockin' and rollin' to take care of everything."

With his team of good samaritans and staff, they chainsawed what they could of the downed tree. Crow commends his team for acting fast, because it could have been a lot worse.

Crow said, "Ultimately they did everything that could be asked and made sure all of our kids were safe and sound."

But as for the playground, it might be out of commission for a little while.

Golden said, "I've already heard a couple of kids really upset that they are not going to get to play on the playground for a couple days."

Crow said, "Some of the bars are bent, and so depending on what the level of that is, will depend on how long the playground will have to be shut down, and how much repair will have to be made."

Other damage around the Rogers area brought out emergency crews.

Traffic signals along 8th street went out, and drivers were having difficulty getting through intersections. Emergency vehicles scrambled across the city, responding to downed power lines.

16-year-old Colton Gonzalez says tents from his family's yard sale started blowing around, nearly hitting passing cars. Gonzalez says he grabbed one tent, and it lifted him into the air. He says the storm came suddenly, and out of nowhere.

"One second it wasn't there and then it just boom hit," he says. "I didn't know what to do. The neighbors helped us. That's all I'm thankful for, the neighbors actually."
The wind also pushed his air conditioner out of the window, and Gonzalez isn't looking forward to the cleanup.

SWEPCO crews also jumped to action, working to restore power to more than 11,000 customers across Northwest Arkansas.

Spokesman Peter Main says several main circuits went down, in addition to power lines from Rogers to Greenland.

Ozarks Electric Cooperative spokeswoman Penny Storms says their hardest hit area is near Elkins and Wesley, they say several lines are down and a number of poles snapped, around 4:30 p.m. about 3 thousand customers were without power, and Storms says it will take longer than they would like to restore it.


(KNWA, Fayetteville)


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