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    UPDATED: Tornado Strikes Benton County

    6:24 PM, Mar 13, 2006   |    comments
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    A powerful tornado swept across northwest Arkansas late Sunday night, leaving families displaced and destroying or damaging dozens of houses. Preliminary results from National Weather Service meteorologist surveying the damage indicate the tornado will be rated at least an F-3. The most severe damage is found near Centerton. The storm formed southwest of Tulsa, Oklahoma late Sunday evening and moved northeastward into northwest Arkansas. The tornado touched down in Benton County about 9:50 p.m. near Gentry and hit towns including Centerton, Bentonville, Little Flock and Avoca. Benton County emergency official Ethan Beckcom says that according to preliminary reports there were about 20 to 25 structures destroyed in the county and an additional 70 damaged. Beckcom says the heaviest damage appeared to be in Centerton. He said no deaths or serious injuries were reported. Jayne Christensen, a dispatcher for Benton County Central Communications, an emergency service that covers most of Benton county, said 12 people were transported to hospitals. Benton County emergency officials said in a statement early Monday morning that the storm caused widespread power outages. The emergency officials also said they received reports of hail up to softball size, which caused damage to vehicles and other property. Officials said dozens of people were forced to leave their homes, including a family of eight who were in their home as a tornado destroyed it. They escaped serious injury. The Red Cross and Salvation Army have offered shelter, food and other aid to victims.

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