The E-F1 tornado that destroyed a section of the Broadmoor community Wednesday evening displaced approximately 125 residents from the Myranda Place apartments.
This was the first tornado inside of the Pine Bluff city limits since an F4 tornado that his the southern portion of the city limits on June 1, 1947. The tornado was responsible for 16 fatalities, according to the Little Rock National Weather Service office.
The 1947 tornado was rated before the Enhanced Fujita Scale was adopted in 1971. The Enhanced Fujita Scale rates the intensity of tornadoes in some countries, including the United States and Canada, based on the damage they cause.
Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington noted that 150-200 people overall have been affected by this week’s twister and that assessments are ongoing at the Myranda Place apartments to determine how to proceed with repairs. Washington has also reached out to the governor’s office for assistance.
“Assessments are ongoing to determine the next steps for the apartment complex affected by the tornado,” said Washington. “We have reached out to the Governor’s staff and left messages. We hope to partner with the State of Arkansas to help residents affected by the tornadoes.”
American Red Cross Executive Director Lori Arnold said that affected citizens are being fed twice per day at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Additionally, other services are being offered to citizens displaced by the tornado.
“We have opened approximately 80 cases. That is about 125 individuals who have been helped,” Arnold said. “There are eight to 10 people who will not be able to get back into their homes anytime soon, but we are hoping everybody else will be able to once the power is returned to the apartment complex.”
Arnold noted that a great relationship with the City of Pine Bluff has helped to streamline all of the services that are required.
“We’ve had a really great partnership with the city, local churches, and donors who are helping,” Arnold said. “We have different people who are feeding citizens for the next couple of days. We have had help with sheltering those who are displaced, and should we need it we can open up a shelter. We are working with Emergency Management to see if that is needed. We do have that on standby, but we are hoping the majority of people will be able to return to their homes soon once power is restored.
The Red Cross has been feeding displaced citizens twice per day at the Pine Bluff Convention Center with the help of local businesses and volunteers.
“We are feeding twice per day, once at lunch and once at dinner,” Arnold said. “We are working with partners. Today Brookshire's grocery story fed today, and yesterday was Tyson Foods. We have people who are coming in to donate food for different days, and the Convention Center has been great about letting us have space to let people come in to be fed.”
Other services are being provided by the Red Cross at the Pine Bluff Convention Center as well.
“We have tables set up for casework, so each one of those families or individuals can come to us and we can get them some financial assistance and help them locate resources for the things they need,” Arnold said.
“Everyone is different, so there are different needs for different people. We help with all of the different recovery needs. If someone needs medical assistance we can help them with replacing medications, get them new glasses, and things like that. If people need help with filing out their insurance policy claims we have resources to help with that. The Red Cross is just spending a lot of time with individuals and individual families to make sure everyone has what they need.”
“Right now we are just dealing with the situation as is. We are helping with casework, helping with feeding, and helping with lodging. As the situation progresses we will begin to decide what the next step is. If we need to open a shelter we can do that. If it is helping people get back into their apartments we can do that. We can also help people locate new homes for those whose houses are completely destroyed. We are really just taking it one day at a time, and we will be here as long as we are needed.”
Arnold said that donations for clothing, food, and water are no longer needed. However, financial donations are being accepted.
“As far as donations go if people want to donate financially, that is great,” Arnold said. “We have had such a wonderful outpouring from the community coming in that we have food, water, and clothes. We have more than enough now. I know the Salvation Army also has more than enough. If people do want to give in kind goods clean clothes are being accepted at the Convention Center. People can also donate financially to the Red Cross, and that helps with this disaster and other disasters in the area.”
Mayor Washington said that the outpouring of support from the City of Pine Bluff and its neighbors has been great to see.
“The outpouring of support from Pine Bluff citizens for our neighbors in need has been nothing short of incredible,” Washington said. “Times like this show us the true meaning of community. For those who have not had a chance to donate yet, I hope you will consider a financial contribution to the American Red Cross and the Pine Bluff Salvation Army to support citizens in this difficult time. Together we will make right what is wrong, repair what is broken, and heal what is injured.”