Kenneth Bruton was leaving a grocery store when he got into his truck, looked back, and saw the tornado coming over a hill.
“I got out of my truck and started running for cover,” Bruton told KARK. The force of the wind knocked him down on his face, he said, but he was able to make it to a room.
“And when I walked in, huddled against the concrete barrier, all the glass windows blew out and people flew out,” Bruton said. “And I endured. And it must have been a minute just snuggling. I thought I was lost for sure.»
The Arkansas State Emergency Operations Center issued a full activation in response to severe weather Friday afternoon, according to a statement.
Widespread weather outbreak
On Friday night, severe weather warnings and tornado watches covered a swath from eastern Texas to Indiana and Ohio, according to the National Weather Service.
In Belvidere, Illinois, about 80 miles northwest of Chicago, one person was killed and dozens injured when the roof of a live music venue collapsed, authorities said. An initial assessment found that a tornado likely caused the damage, the Belvidere Police Department said.
Southwest of Indianapolis, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office said a weather emergency had caused extensive damage in the city of Sullivan, with downed power lines, multiple gas leaks and power outages. No deaths were reported, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
More than 94,000 utility customers lost power in Illinois, about 80,000 in Indiana and more than 65,000 in Arkansas as of Friday night, according to poweroutage.es.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon ahead of severe weather expected in the western part of the state.
In Tennessee, Tipton County and other areas were under a «tornado emergency» Friday night. In Covington, said the police the city was «impassable», and crews were trying to clear roads, and search and rescue teams were being organized. No deaths had been reported.
Tornado warnings were issued in Iowa on Friday and there were reports of tornadoes on the ground.
VideosHare by KWWL, NBC affiliate of Waterloo, Iowa, showed damage to buildings in Coralville, a city of about 22,000 adjacent to Iowa City.
Flash flooding from thunderstorms also posed a risk from the Midwest to the Lower Mississippi Valley on Friday, according to the National Metereological Service. The areas most at risk for flooding as of Friday night are in the Ohio, Tennessee and Lower Mississippi Valleys.
The severe weather comes a week after tornadoes ripped through Mississippi and Alabama, killing 26 people and causing widespread damage.
emma li , christian santana, kurt chirbas and denis romero contributed.