UPDATE: At mid-morning, with Gov. Mike Beebe and other officials in Mayflower to talk about storm damage in Mayflower, the state Department of Emergency Management, Beebe said the death toll had been reduced from the original 16 to 14. Two people in Pulaski County were counted twice.
He said at a news conference that there was uncertainty about whether that total could grow as search of destroyed homes and businesses continued. Beebe said emergency response at the state and federal level had been all it could be.
At his news conference, a resident of the tornado zone complained about difficulty returning to the area because of efforts to limit access to essential people. But Beebe said anyone with a legitimate reason to be in the area would be allowed in and he promised help to a woman who complained. “If somebody messes up, we’ll try to fix it for you,” he said.
Beebe also related a story he’d heard from a storm victim of the death of one woman who’d taken shelter in a home “safe room.” The home was destroyed, but the safe room mostly withstood the storm. But Beebe said he’d been told a caved-in door took the woman’s life.
Others at the session praised early warning systems for getting them and family members into shelter ahead of the tornado.
From earlier this morning:
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management is reporting 16 deaths as a result of the Sunday night storm system that tore across Pulaski, Faulkner and White counties. Coverage this morning is adding graphic evidence of devastation in Vilonia. At least 19 injured people from Faulkner County were admitted to hospitals — 9 in Conway and 10 in Little Rock, some with major trauma. Conway Regional treated 100 people. Arkansas Children’s said it received 18 patients.
The ADEM website lists 10 deaths in Faulkner County, five in Pulaski County and one in White County. Damage also was reported in Independence and Jackson counties. UPDATE: The Pulaski toll was reduced to three, in a single family.
Here’s a mashup of photos posted on Twitter last night.
President Obama also spoke on the disaster during a foreign trip and promised federal help.