2 Children Still Critical After Weekend Arkansas Tornado

Sunday, February 25th 2007, 1:58 pm
By: News On 6

DUMAS, Ark. (AP) _ Much of this small town still had no electricity Monday and an estimated 800 workers had no jobs to report to because of a weekend tornado.

Among the dozens of people injured, two young children remained in critical condition Monday.

Gov. Mike Beebe cut short his trip to the National Governors Association conference in Washington to tour the damaged area Monday. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter visited Sunday and said it looked as though ``high explosives'' had been set off in some homes.

The tornado struck Saturday with wind estimated at up to 207 mph.

It destroyed the Arkat Feeds pet food plant, where 125 people were employed, and heavily damaged the Federal Mogul auto supply company. It also destroyed several other businesses in the town of 5,300 people

About 2,300 customers in the Dumas area were still without power Monday, said Entergy Arkansas spokesman James Thompson.

Thompson said the utility's electric substation for the area was knocked out and it had to bring in temporary equipment. However, he said everyone able to accept electricity should have service by the end of business on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Dumas resident Kevin Hill and his family pulled furniture from the rubble of their home. He said he and his family were in Pine Bluff to pick up a saw blade when the storm ripped apart their home.

``Thank God for a five-dollar saw blade or we would have all been inside the house,'' said Hill, 42.

The storm also polluted the town's drinking water and residents were told to boil it before using it.

The National Weather Service rated the Dumas tornado an F-3, with wind estimated at 158 to 207 mph. A second tornado that went from near Pendleton to near Tichnor was rated an F-1.

The tornadoes were spun off by thunderstorms that were part of the huge weather system responsible for blizzard conditions farther north that blocked highways on the Plains, grounded airline flights and blacked out hundreds of thousands of customers.

At least 43 houses and 50 mobile homes were destroyed or damaged around Dumas, while 25 businesses were leveled and nine had major damage, a state Department of Emergency Management spokesman said.

``We feel like we've probably got 800 unemployed today as a result,'' Desha County Sheriff Jim Snyder said.