EF2 tornado rips through southern Ashley County

The EF2 tornado that traveled through southern Ashley County Thursday damaged homes and downed trees in Ashley County and Morehouse Parish.

An EF-2 tornado crossed into Ashley County Thursday morning, damaging homes of residents who live near the county line.

Jared Floyd, the chief meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said Thursday’s tornado was one of six that morning that touched down in the area the Jackson office serves

The tornado was said to be from the storm that caused the deadly tornadoes in Ruston, La., earlier Thursday morning.

The National Weather Service report said that the Morehouse Parish, La.-Ashley County tornado touched down just before 2:42 a.m. in Morehouse Parish approximately eight miles northwest of Beekman and traveled across the state line. The tornado was rated EF-2 by the NWS with winds over 110 miles per hour and a damage range of 16.2 miles from touchdown to lift off.

“The tornado began in the marshy backwaters southeast of the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge and shifted northeast to the intersection of Martin Trail and Lake Road where it snapped several large softwood trees and limbs and uprooted several trees,” the report said. “The storm then continued to northeast of to the intersection of Mound Road and Tram Road where it contined to snap softwood trees and begun to uproot hardwoods.”

A NWS spokesperson in Jackson said the tornado crossed the state line at Louisiana Highway 143, which becomes Arkansas Highway 133 at approximately 3 a.m., where it continued to snap and uproot trees.

The report said there was damage to the Arkansas rural residential areas around Ashley 203, Ashley 201, Ashley 2, Ashlely 228, Ashley 714, and the intersection of Ashley 4 and the railroad tracks west of U.S. Highway 425 before the storm lifted off at approximately 3:02 a.m.

“The tornado then went northeast snapping and uprooting softwood and hardwood trees along Highway 425 and lifted at the intersection of Highway 425 and Highway 82, but not before uprooting and snapping hardwood and softwood trees,” it said.

Hamburg resident Linda Ingram reported to officials that she had damage to her residence on Ashley Road 4 East. There were reportedly six trees down on her property which is located near Highway 425 S.

“We tracked this tornado right along Ashley Road 4,” an NWS spokesperson said on Monday about Ingram’s report.

Ashley 2 West resident Jennifer Buffington said her property and the surrounding area was severely damaged.

Buffington said that some of the first responders told her she had the worst damage on this side of the state line.

“The neighborhood in Morehouse Parish that had damage is behind my pasture,” Buffington said.

On Monday morning, Buffington said that she had approximately 15 trees down in her pasture and that her home currently had a hole in the roof where it was nearly ripped off during the storm, as well as other major damage. Buffington also said that her brother, who lives nearby, had damage to his roof, her father lost his shop and several of her neighbors had trees down and damage to the outside of their homes.

Other residents who live on Ashley 2 who reported damage include Scott and Brooklin Wheeler and Josh and Randi Moffatt.

Randi Moffatt said her property had several trees down, and minor damage to her home.

Wheeler said her family heard the tornado coming, but didn’t really have time to prepare.

“By the time we heard it, it was on us so we didn’t have time to prepare, but we definitely heard it,” Wheeler said.

Brooklin reported that their home only received minor damage considering the amount of trees down on their property, but that a neighbor across the highway, in Morehouse Parish, had severe damage.

Brooklin created a GoFundMe account for her neighbor across the state line, Mary O’Neal, who is a widow from Crossett. Wheeler said O’Neal was living alone with her young grandson and their home was destroyed.

Wheeler set up a social media account to raise money for O’Neal and as of Monday night had raised $5,680 of their $6,500 goal.

“Let’s show her an outpouring of love from this community,” Brooklin said.

Multiple other residents had damage to their homes and property, but a total number had not been confirmed as of Monday afternoon.

Officials confirmed, however, that no one was severely hurt or injured and there were no fatalities.

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