135 homes destroyed by tornado, Craighead County officials report at Thursday conference

JONESBORO, Ark. – Despite the town being hit by a tornado less than one week prior, Craighead County officials urged area residents to focus on the COVID-19 outbreak in the coming weeks as cases rise across the globe.

“These are not normal times and are we are going to have to make an adjustment.” – Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin began a Thursday afternoon press conference with those words, warning that COVID-19 remains the top threat to local residents.

“We’re a tough people and we can certainly adapt,” Perrin said. “And we must adapt, so let’s not get frustrated. Let’s not get angry. Let’s just learn to carry on new ways and make the best of the situation.”

The mayor announced for JETS buses, rides with no fares starting today.

The scope of the damage from Saturday’s tornado became more clear during the press conference as Craighead County Judge Marvin Day read the numbers of homes affected: 135 destroyed, 108 suffering major damage, 390 minor damage, 16 affected, and 20 inaccessible.

Several important resources were discussed with officials releasing associated phone numbers:

  • For local unemployment insurance: 870-910-8129 or 1855-225-4440
  • Red Cross: 417-447-7180; Hours: 10-6 m-f and 10-4 Saturday

The curfew will remain in effect until further notice with time beginning at 10 PM, Chief of Police Rick Elliott said.

Police department has resumed normal operations (8 hour shifts instead of 12 hour shifts). The mobile command post at Turtle Creek Mall has been shut down.

Stricken neighborhoods are progressing in clean up, the chief said. Debris is being moved out to the curbs. Yards are being cleaned up well, too. “Very impressive,” Elliott said.

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A lot of work continues on Prospect Road. Some of the largest trees hit were on that area. He said JPD will ask people to stay off of Prospect Road.

“It’s a small road and we have a lot of big trucks,” Elliott said.

The railroad is finishing efforts to get container cars out of the way from the train derailment that happened.

The chief stressed to look for all contractors to have a yellow tag on their mirror or dash. If that’s not visible, ask for paper-work he said. They should have a city privilege license.

“If they do not have that, please do not do business with them,” Elliott said. “There’s the potential of you being scammed.”

The Chamber of Commerce is working to keep track of the number of businesses affected, Perrin said.

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