Arkansas January 19, 2018
The 9 Most Horrifying Disasters That Ever Happened In Arkansas
Arkansans are some of the most resilient folks in the nation. We can survive tragedies both natural and human caused all while trying to lend a hand to our neighbors in need. Let’s honor the fallen and look back to the disasters that struck Arkansas hard. Entries are ranked by total damages and stats are from
FEMA’s disaster declarations.
9. 1987 Serial Killings of Ronald Gene Simmons
The title of worst mass murderer in Arkansas goes to Ronald Gene Simmons. Dover and Russellville were shook when on Dec. 1987, Simmons murdered his entire family of 14 and later shot two others. Members were shot, strangled, or drowned, including his 20 month old grandson. Simmons died by lethal injection on June 25th, 1990.
8. 2010 Albert Pike Flash Floods
Heavy rains from June 10th-11th caused the Little Missouri and Caddo Rivers to swell and flood campsites in the Ouachita National Forest. The Little Missouri went from a depth of 3-ft. to 23-ft. in less than two hours. Twenty campers, including children, were drowned and 24 were reported missing. The American Red Cross estimated 200 people in the area were affected, with Langley being the most devastated.
Pictured is the pavement stripped from the road leading to the Albert Pike Rec Area after the flood.
7. 2011 Super Tornado Outbreak
This outbreak was deemed the largest and costliest tornado disaster ever recorded. Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern U.S. were all affected from the 362 tornadoes that touched down. Arkansas wasn't as damaged as some of the other states but the impact was still devastating. Hot Springs and Vilonia (pictured) took most of the damage within the state and damages were estimated to be more than 3 million.
6. 2008 Tropical Storm Ike
Hurricane damage isn't usually what comes to mind when thinking about Arkansas disasters but in Sept. 2008 the state was pummeled by Tropical Storm Ike. The storm affected Texas and Cuba far more than any other state but Arkansas did take a hit. The state was declared a major disaster area because of the severe storms, high winds, and major flooding caused by Ike. Estimated damage in Arkansas alone totaled more than $3.6 million.
5. 2009 Ice Storm
This has been the worst ice storm in recent Arkansas history second only to the storm of 2000. The grip of the ice caused $80 million in damages throughout the state and 300,000 Arkansas residents went without power for weeks. Unfortunately, most of the deaths during the storm were attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning due to power generators or kerosene heaters being used indoors improperly.
4. 2008 Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak
On Feb. 5th, 2008, 87 tornadoes touched down within 15 hours. The overwhelming number of tornadoes ripped though five states. The first supercell tore through Clinton (pictured), this was also the longest lasting tornado out of the 87. The EF4 tornado killed 13 people and caused an estimated $120 million in damage to the state.
3. 2000 Ice Storm
This has been the worst ice storm since 1819. The Christmastime disaster caused 600,000 Arkansas residents to lose power, including at the FEMA director's farm and at the state capital. Three inches of ice froze the Ouachitas and River Valley areas. Fortunately, Arkansans received ample warnings so causalities were minimal but the damages were over 500 million.
2. 1927 Great Mississippi Flood
This was the most destructive and costly flood ever recorded in the state's history. The flood covered about 6,600 square miles (just in Arkansas) and put 48% of the state’s counties under water. The damages were estimated at over one billion dollars, which would be over a trillion by today's standards. However, the flood did have one positive outcome: to prevent future floods the government built the world's longest system of levees and floodways.
Pictured is Natural Steps, AR covered in over 4-ft. of water.
1. 1811 New Madrid Earthquake
The New Madrid Seismic Zone, with its epicenter in northeast Arkansas, shook one million square miles on Dec. 16th, 1811. The quake began in West Memphis and spread as far as Canada. Land and houses were destroyed but luckily at the time the sparse population meant few causalities. If the quake had happened in more recent years, at least of 1/3 of the country would be a disaster area with damages in the trillions. The New Madrid Seismic Zone is still monitored by geologists.
Arkansas is a state of survivors. When was a time you persevered in the face of an Arkansas disaster?
If you’d like more details, you can read the full feature on
Simmons or the 2000 ice storm.
If you’re rather depressed from reading about all the destruction, here’s some
good news about a fallen Arkansas landmark.