Tornado flattens Hopkins Co. homes, businesses; fire station destroyed

The National Weather Service is expected to survey a nearly five-mile wide debris field to determine if a tornado is responsible for extensive damage in Hopkins County on Thursday, April 3, 2014.

A trained storm spotter reported a possible tornado that touched down around 9:15 p.m. Wednesday in the community of Birthright, north of Sulphur Springs. Businesses and homes were flattened, with debris covering roads and scattered across pastures.

Throughout the night, first responders searched homes trying to find anyone in need of medical attention.

As soon as the storm passed, Weldon White began sifting through debris, looking for belongings.

“It feels like total devastation. Our whole home and business. This is also our plumbing company, Sulphur Springs Plumbing. It’s all been ripped away. It’s it’s. I don’t really have words to describe it. It’s awful. There’s hardly anything left.” White said no one was hurt, but his family is missing a puppy and a South American coati, a type of exotic raccoon.

Tornado flattens Hopkins Co. homes, businesses; fire station destroyed 2
Building insulation sticks to the side of a fire truck inside the North Hopkins VFD fire station number three.

Not far down the street, the roof was peeled off the North Hopkins County Fire Station number three. Powerful wind peeled the roof back and blew out an exterior wall. Building insulation covered everything inside like a blanket of snow. The fire trucks and some of their critical equipment were not damaged.

Chief Craig Morgan said the fire house was renovated in the last three years. “At this point, all we’ve done is taken a couple of pictures of the fire station. It’s insured. It’ll have to wait. It’s more important to us to assist our neighbors and look for injured people. The fire station will have to come tomorrow.”

Despite the impressive damage, no injuries were reported. Those displaced are being housed in a Red Cross Shelter.

Authorities say the community could not have been more prepared. The Hopkins County Emergency Response Team trained for this very type of disaster only two months ago. Hundreds of County personnel and volunteers gathered at Joe Bob’s Exxon station, which became a staging area for the search and rescue efforts.

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of KLTV/KTRE-TV or Raycom Media.  They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2014 Lane Luckie

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