Arkansas May 04, 2017
9 Extraordinary Times Arkansas Bounced Back From Total Disasters
Despite the video some of us have seen on social media of a man riding an inflatable duck down a flooded Fayetteville street, storm season in the Natural State isn’t generally fun and games. In fact, the recent storms in Arkansas have left several communities flooded and caused seven deaths. Combined with the recent murders of two children from Mena, their mother, and their great uncle, it seems like the Natural State can’t catch a break lately. I didn’t make y’all this list to depress you further. Instead, think of this article as examples of things we’ve all overcome. If we can bounce back from the grief and devastation of these 9 horrific tragedies, we can rally once again.
1. The Elaine Massacre
In 1919 in the Delta town of Elaine, posses mostly from neighboring counties roamed the countryside murdering African American men, women, and children. Though some sources still refer to this tragedy as a "race riot," they are wrong. It was a slaughter, plain and simple, and it resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives. Arkansas garnered national attention for this tragedy, which for the most part was largely misreported, and no such large scale loss of life has occurred in a singular event on Arkansas soil since then.
2. The Great Flood of 1927
There’s a reason it was called the Great Flood. It remains the worst flood in Arkansas history and one of the worst floods in U.S. history. Almost half of Arkansas’s 75 counties were under water, some under up to thirty feet of water. Nearly a hundred people died and millions of acres of crops were lost to the swiftly rising waters in Arkansas alone. The Delta was hit particularly hard and it took years to recover. Today, however, the Arkansas Delta is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the United States.
3. Tragedy at Westside Middle School
Some of the most heartbreaking tragedies in our history have been school shootings. They’re shocking affairs where the lives lost are frequently those of the youngest among us. Arkansas has not been spared this epidemic. In 1998, two middle school students wounded ten people and killed five at Westside Middle School near the town of Jonesboro. Four of those dead were the classmates of the shooters, and one teacher lost her life as well.
4. Tornado Outbreak of 1916
In the late spring of 1916, thirty five tornadoes caused death and destruction across the South. In the time before accurate weather forecasts and systems of warning, outbreaks like this were particularly devastating. The events of June 5th and 6th in 1916 caused the deaths of 76 people in Arkansas alone.
5. 2010 Flash Flood at Albert Pike
Arkansas rivers are our friends—until they’re not. Arkansas is no stranger to flash flooding, and those rapidly rising waters claim lives every single year. Perhaps the most poignant of those losses occurred at Albert Pike Recreation Area. When the waters of the Little Missouri and the Caddo rose drastically overnight, at least twenty campers were swept away. Six of those lost were children.
6. 2008 Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak
In 2008, while 24 U.S. states were voting in the presidential primaries, the weather took a deadly turn. The outbreak of February 5th and 6th resulted in the longest tornado track Arkansas had ever seen or has ever seen to this day. Beginning in Yell County and tracking 122 miles across seven counties, well into Sharp County. This single tornado cost thirteen lives, caused approximately $120 million of damage, and 140 injuries.
7. Tornado Outbreak of 1952
The spring of 1952 was a deadly tornado season. The most deadly outbreak occurred on March 21st and 22nd . Fifteen of the tornadoes recorded on those days happened in Arkansas, and they cost 112 Arkansans their lives. In addition to the lives lost, the damage to property was huge.
8. 2011 Super Outbreak
The 2011 tornado season was another rough one. During three days in April, the deadliest and costliest tornado outbreak in recorded U.S. history claimed 324 lives and cost $11 billion. The town of Vilonia had thirty minutes lead time, and though the destruction of property in Vilonia was truly devastating, only four people lost their lives. In fact, of the 324 people who died in this outbreak, only five were Arkansans. Still, the property damage was absolutely devastating.
9. 2014 Tornado Outbreak
In 2014 Vilonia was hit hard again, this time by a tornado that started near Paron and wreaked havoc across 41 miles in one hour. Sixteen people lost their lives and 193 people were injured, and again property damage was absolutely devastating. In fact, the tornado debris pulled from Lake Conway alone totaled more than 627 tons.
For more on the Elaine Massacre,
click here. To read about another devastating tornado, try this one.