Jonesboro, AR Tornado, May 1973
TORNADO SMASHES JONESBORO.
Jonesboro, Ark. (AP) -- Gov. Dale Bumpers said Sunday he would ask President Nixon today to declare Jonesboro a disaster area, making the tornado stricken city eligible for federal disaster assistance.
A killer tornado sliced into the university city of 27,000 early Sunday, killing three persons and injuring more than 200. One woman remained in poor condition at a Memphis hospital late Sunday.
Property damage ran in the millions.
The Jonesboro tornado was one of several which skipped across the state late Saturday night and early Sunday. Other tornadoes were reported having caused damage in Benton, Crawford, Pulaski, Crittenden, Poinsett and Jackson counties. Numerous other tornadoes were sighted across the state.
Jonesboro was hit five years ago by a tornado which killed 34 and injured about 300. Sheriff Floyd Johnson of Craighead County said there was more property damage in Sunday's tornado than the one which struck in 1968. Some sources said the damage was five times as great.
This year's storm apparently hit the ground at Otwell, eight miles south of Jonesboro, and continued in a northeasterly direction. It struck Jonesboro shortly before 1 a.m. The path of the storm was roughly parallel to that of the May 15, 1968 tornado.
Johnson identified the dead as GUY COBB, about 68, of Jonesboro and GERTHA ODEN, 68, and J. F. GUILTNER, 67, both of Otwell.
Injuries also were reported from Crawford County in western Arkansas and from a rural area near Newport, about 25 miles southeast of Jonesboro, and in Poinsett and Benson counties.
Officials at St. Bernard's Hospital in Jonesboro said more than 200 persons came to the emergency room and 21 were kept at the hospital for additional treatment.
Lt. Gov. Bob Riley, acting in the place of Bumpers, who was out of the state at the time, called out the National Guard about 1 a.m. Sunday after the tornado hit Jonesboro. By late Sunday, about 200 National Guardsmen were in the area.
Four public schools including Jonesboro High School were heavily damaged.
Red Cross officials estimated that about 2,000 homes suffered minor damage, while another 2,000 homes were either destroyed or heavily damaged. Officials estimated that 200 businesses were damaged.
Heavy rains and flooding delayed the arrival of emergency vehicles at Jonesboro for several hours. Communication with the city was virtually cut off from the time the twister hit until 8 a.m.
A spokesman for Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. said at Little ROck Sunday that about 5,000 telephones remained out in the city Sunday. The spokesman said repair crews from around the state would be at Jonesboro today to help with repairs.
A tornado injured 28 persons in Jackson County shortly after midnight when it touched down near the small community of Blackville, when made its way through Algoa, Balch and Midway.
Authorities said 14 persons were injured at Blackville. Six of the 28 injured were sent to Little Rock and Memphis hospitals after receiving initial treatment at two Newport hospitals.
Thirty-three persons were treated at Newport hospitals early Sunday. Shirley GIbbs, supervisor at the Harris Hospital at Newport, said 11 of the 13 persons treated at the hospital were admitted, two in serious condition. Four of the 11 were discharged Sunday.
The Courier News Blytheville Arkansas 1973-05-28