A tornado cut through the heart of Jonesboro, Ark., on Saturday evening, leaving six people with minor injuries and damaging a mall, local business and an airport, according to the authorities.
“It’s been a long night but we are slowly getting things put back together,” Jeff Presley, the city’s E-911 director, said on Sunday. “We have a path of damage that reaches about four miles throughout the city. We got several buildings that are beyond repair.”
The authorities, including the National Guard and the Arkansas Forestry Commission, continued to search damaged buildings and visited homes on Sunday.
“We are praying that as we do these secondary searches that we will find everybody in good shape and taken care of,” Mr. Presley said.
Mayor Harold Perrin said many residents were staying home because of the coronavirus pandemic, keeping the number of those hurt low.
As the tornado sliced from south to north, it damaged the Mall at Turtle Creek, the Jonesboro Municipal Airport, an Anheuser-Busch granary and local shops.
Bill Campbell, a city spokesman, said two-thirds of the mall and several hangars at the airport were destroyed. The airport remained closed on Sunday.
Mr. Presley said there were at least five gas leaks related to the tornado and several hundred customers were without power in the city. There was also a gas leak and a fire that broke out at the Camfil Air Pollution Control manufacturing plant, which was a total loss, he added.
Mr. Campbell said that a number of cars on a freight train were knocked over, leaving the wheels of the train on the track. Several vehicles were also overturned and knocked into ditches, he added.
The tornado also struck a post office, Mr. Presley said, where it tore off the frame of a postal truck and tossed into a parking lot a block away.
A reporter for a local television station, KATV, said on Twitter that the tornado had destroyed the home of Dr. Jared Burks, who had been living apart from his wife and young son while treating coronavirus patients.
“We are all safe,” his wife, Alyssa Burks, wrote on Facebook. She said that Dr. Burks had been at home but that she and their son had been at her mother’s house.
Thousands of Facebook users had shared a photo of Dr. Burks and his son, pressing their hands toward each other on opposite sides of a glass door — a symbol of the sacrifices health care professionals have made as they fight the pandemic.
Mr. Perrin, the mayor, said the city had ordered a 7 p.m. curfew on Saturday to let emergency vehicles pass through the streets unimpeded and to discourage gawkers.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson wrote on Twitter that he declared Sunday a “Special Day of Prayer in Arkansas.”
The Mall at Turtle Creek — which includes a Dillard’s, a JCPenney and a Target — had been temporarily closed because of the coronavirus, according to its website, although “essential stores and restaurants with exterior-facing entrances” had stayed open.
“There was severe damage to our shopping center and emergency services are on site,” said Lindsay Kahn, a spokeswoman for Brookfield Properties, which owns the roughly 700,000-square-foot mall. “We are very grateful that there are no reported casualties within our property.”
Jonesboro, which is home to about 77,000 people, had sounded its 33 tornado sirens several minutes before the tornado struck, Mr. Presley said.
Said Said, the owner of Triple S Phone & Computer Repair, said he was just about to close his shop when he heard the sirens and saw debris flying outside.
“I was really scared,” he said. The power went out, and he sat on the floor of his shop to record a video of the approaching tornado.
“I was just praying nothing would happen to me or my store,” he said.
His shop was not damaged, he said, but several others nearby were, and the windows of his car were broken.
Johnny Diaz contributed reporting.
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