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Arkansas community stands tall after tornado knocks down homes

A deadly tornado with 165-mile per-hour winds hit North Little Rock, Arkansas, on March 31.
Posted at 1:15 PM, Apr 07, 2023

Communities in states across the Midwest and South are heading into the weekend facing the same problem: trying to figure out where to begin to clean up after being hit by one of the hundreds of tornadoes to strike in the past week. 

In North Little Rock, Arkansas, the sounds of chainsaws and trucks have become synonymous with life since a deadly tornado with 165-mile-per-hour winds hit the community March 31. 

"A friend of mine had just called me on the phone and said, 'Look, there's a tornado coming your way,'" Keyth Howard said as he cleaned up the debris in his yard. "I ran downstairs and looked out my garage. When I looked out there, there were some trees and debris hovering around in the tornado just floating, and when I saw that I said, 'Oh, Lord.'" 

March 31 saw 104 tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service, making that day the busiest for tornado activity to that point in 2023.

Howard said he hasn't had electricity in almost a week. His car, which was totaled in the storm, is sitting in his driveway with the windshield shattered. 

Masoud Shahed-Ghaznavi stands in front of his Little Rock, Ark., home that was destroyed.

Catastrophic tornadoes leave at least 32 dead in South and Midwest

The devastating weather tore roofs off buildings, destroyed houses, flipped cars and uprooted trees.


Builder Roy Henderson is helping repair homes down the street. His own home was also severely damaged in the tornado.

"The gazebo is completely gone, and my storage building has been completely moved about two to three feet off the foundation," Henderson said. 

The stories of survival in one neighborhood can be found across North Little Rock. Cleanup is now a job that stretches across property lines. 

"We've seen everything from tears in their eyes to basically shock," said North Little Rock City Councilor Debi Ross, who is helping with recovery efforts at a shelter. "People come in here shaking, they're so upset. It's traumatic when you have your whole life turned upside down." 

Henderson is worried that his home is so damaged that he will have to find another place to live. 

"That's one thing about Arkansas, I have to give 'em credit — we really came together as a neighborhood. It's just a blessing," Howard said. 

His attitude is proof that even when a storm knocks down so much, the ability to find the good around you can stand tall.