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Severe storms damage Ark. airport, cars and houses

Associated Press Published: September 8, 2012

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Strong winds from severe thunderstorms destroyed airplane hangars and damaged airplanes, homes and vehicles as they moved across Arkansas on Friday, authorities said Saturday.

No serious injuries were reported, but the storms Friday left thousands of homes and businesses without electricity.

The National Weather Service estimated winds were about 80 mph in Independence County when they destroyed three hangars and damaged three airplanes at Batesville Regional Airport. Officials said falling trees damaged two houses and crushed three cars in Desha.

Michael Ferry, radio announcer for the Southside Southerners football team in Batesville, said officials had already stopped the team's game Friday when the stormy weather hit.

"The storm pretty much came up all at once," said Ferry, who also works as a storm spotter for the National Weather Service. "We lost power in the press box and almost 30 seconds after the storm started, a straight-line wind gust came and the window across from me shattered and landed on me."

Ferry said he sustained a couple of cuts and scrapes.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Robinson said in an email that a crew surveyed areas Saturday in Independence County to get a closer look at the damage.

"We estimated the peak winds were around 80 mph at the Batesville airport," Robinson said in his email. "Damage was clearly from thunderstorm winds (a bow echo in this case), and not a tornado."

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that more than 71,000 homes and businesses lost power at one point Friday night.

According to Entergy Arkansas, about 14,688 customers still had no electricity Saturday afternoon, many of them in Independence County. First Electric Cooperative said on its website Saturday that 32 of its customers were without power.


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