Friday, June 06, 2014

TOP STORY >> Girl survives as tree falls on bed

Leader staff writer

Winds hitting at least 75 miles an hour rushed through the Sherwood-Jacksonville-Cabot area Friday afternoon dropped a massive tree on a the corner bedroom of a house at 405 Graham.

Penny Balogh’s 12-year-old daughter, Becca, was in the corner bedroom of the house when the tree came tumbling down literally cutting the house in half. It scared her, but she was not injured.

The girl, who was lying in bed when the tree fell, said, “I was very terrified. The lights went out. About 10 seconds later, I felt debris falling in.”

A number of friends and family members responded quickly to help the family salvage what they could from the damaged part of the house.

The same straight-line whoosh of wind dropped a tree at the edge of The Leader’s parking lot. It fell on an employee’s car, causing severe damage.

A 36-year-old woman in Jacksonville was hit by lightning from the same thunderstorm cell that brought the high winds and about three-fourths of an inch.

She was touching an air conditioning unit at Pathfinders on West Main when lightning hit, traveled through the unit and into her. She was reportedly in stable condition at North Metro Friday afternoon.

The thunderstorm darkened homes and businesses throughout the area, especially in Sherwood and McAlmont. Numerous power lines were reported downed from Sherwood to Cabot and in Lonoke.

In Jacksonville — along Main Street — McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Knight’s Super Foods were among many business shut down most of Friday afternoon.

Knight’s in Beebe also had to close because off a power outage caused by the storm.

Interim police chief Kenny Boyd said the winds were rough. “We were lucky. Damage seems to be minimal for the amount of winds I saw,” he said.

Jeff Hood with the National Weather Service said 75 mph winds were recorded at Little Rock Air Force Base.

“That wind was nothing to play with,” he said. Hood said the weather service got reports that the high winds blew out the windows at Russell Honda in Sherwood.

The storm threw a number of Pulaski County Special School District computers offline, forcing many teachers to delay the start of their summer vacation until sometime Monday.

As of 3:30 p.m., First Electric Cooperative crews were working to restore power to approximately 6,400 members after severe weather moved through the co-op’s service areas Friday afternoon. Approximately 4,200 of those members were in Lonoke, Pulaski and White counties.

Entergy and North Little Rock were reporting about 1,750 customers without power in Sherwood and McAlmont. Another 600 Entergy customers were in the dark in Jacksonville.

At its peak, First Electric had 7,600 customers without power

At 5 p.m., approximately 5,480 members were still without power.

The weather service is calling for “unsettled weather conditions” to continue through the weekend and into the first part of next week. The forecast calls for upper level impulses to track southeast and interact with the stalled front hanging over the state that produced scattered showers and thunderstorms, many strong and severe, through Wednesday.