NWS: Tornado That Hit Vilonia Area “At Least EF-3″

A tornado that hit the Mayflower and Vilonia area on Sunday has been rated “at least an EF-3,” according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service issued a statement Monday night saying officials are still assessing damage from the tornado that went through and caused major damage to Vilonia, Mayflower and Paron.

The tornado started just inside the Pulaski County line, four miles north of Lake Norrell, and went on a continuous damage path for at least 29.2 miles, to Vilonia, according to the National Weather Service.

The damage survey will continue Tuesday in Vilonia, according to the statement.

Tornadoes are rated on the Enhanced Fujita scale 0 to 5, with 5 possessing the strongest winds. An EF-3 tornado can have winds up to 165 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

Some people said are lucky to be alive after the deadly tornado rolled through the area.

One of those people is Freda Vanbyssum, a resident of Mayflower.

“I’m just lucky to be alive, but to us it felt like it was a lifetime,” Vanbyssum said.

Vanbyssum’s address is 685 Highway 365, and that’s where the Vanbyssum residence once stood. Now, there is little more than scattered debris.

The back yard has been turned into a parking lot of twisted semis.

“[We] got in the bathroom. . . lay down on the floor, and it hit. I had to hold the door closed it was trying to fly open and a few seconds later the roof came off the house,” Vanbyssum said.

The couple survived laying flat on the floor.

“I feel very lucky when you walk around and you see everything and just know my brother and mothers house is worse than mine,” Vanbyssum said.

The Vanbyssum family said the twister was unforgettable, and they are playing for their fallen community members.

The family also said they have friends and family recovering in the hospital.

Tyson Foods was also in the ares lending a helping hand.

“We’ve brought in about 30,000 pounds of food,” said Tyson representative Worth Sparkman.

The company brought in trucks and volunteers to feed victims and emergency responders.

“We expect to cook three meals a day for the foreseeable future,” said Sparkman.

A list of the 15 Arkansas victims killed by tornadoes Sunday has been released. Click here to see that list, from our partners at KTHV in Little Rock.

 

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