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Tornadoes in Arkansas Kill Four

January 22, 1999

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Tornadoes and funnel clouds tore across Arkansas on Thursday, collapsing the front of a downtown grocery store and knocking over trees at the governor’s mansion.

At least four people were killed _ including a baby in the small town of Beebe northeast of Little Rock. More than a dozen were injured statewide and tens of thousands were without power.

Three people were hurt at the Harvest Foods store that was imploded in a matter of seconds.

``The lights flickered a couple times, then it went black,″ said Derrick Stallworth, who was on the soda pop and bottled water aisle when the storm hit. ``I decided to hit the floor, then I saw the roof coming down.″

He said he freed some of the 10 to 20 shoppers who were in the storm when the tornado hit. Firefighters searched for those he missed.

The store pharmacist was among the injured. Witnesses who were outside the store said it was hit by a tornado.

``It was a real one, in the sky and coming down. Black and white. So many different colors,″ said Michelle Johnson, who watched the storm roll in.

Trees were damaged at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion just south of downtown but the house was spared and Gov. Mike Huckabee and his family were not hurt, said Huckabee’s spokesman Jim Harris.

Tornado warnings were issued for more than half of the state’s 75 counties in an outbreak that forecasters had been talking about since Monday.

Searcy Schools Superintendent Tony Wood said a member of the school board was killed in the tornado at Center Hill, 45 miles northeast of Little Rock, when a twister struck the victim’s home.

Another person was killed in a building at North Little Rock and a woman was killed when a tree fell on her car in the neighborhood south of the Harvest Foods, police said.

Injuries were reported from many of the 38 counties for where warnings were posted.

Many of the storms followed the same path as a March 1, 1997, outbreak that killed 25.

Hail the size of grapefruits was reported at Sardis, south of Little Rock, and the size of baseballs at Maumelle, northwest of Little Rock. Smaller hail was reported in Hot Springs.

About 60,000 people were without power between Little Rock and the Missouri state line, Entergy Arkansas spokesman Dan Daugherty said.

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