A major tornado ripped through the southeast portion of Jonesboro on Saturday afternoon, causing heavy damage in the northeast Arkansas city.
Injuries have been reported but their number and severity have not been released.
The mayor set a 7 p.m. curfew as Arkansas National Guardsmen rush to the city to help with rescue and security efforts.
The Mall at Turtle Creek appeared to have taken a direct hit, however, in an ironic twist, the mall had few customers on what would normally be a busy Saturday afternoon due to COVID-19 virus-related closures.
Emergency services personnel set up their command post at the mall, which is located in the southeast part of the city.
The Jonesboro Municipal Airport was also struck. Social video posts showed destroyed aircraft and hangars.
Many streets and highways were blocked by debris and trees.
A train was derailed between Brookland and Jonesboro.
Arkansas State University had not significant damage. Again, the campus was largely devoid of students because of the end of spring break week, and the decision of many students to leave town for their homes due to the virus outbreak. The storm traveled a path to the south and east of the campus.
Jonesboro City Light & Water operates the city’s electrical system. “CWL has significant damage to our facilities along the path of the tornado from the Caraway/Race intersection northeasterly to the Farville area. All available resources have been mobilized,” the utility said on its Facebook page.
Craighead Electric Cooperative, which serves a large rural area of Northeast Arkansas, reported 960 outages. They were located mostly in a line from northeast Jonesboro, to Brookland, to just east of Paragould.