Arkansas Tornado Destroys New School That Was Set to Open in the Fall

By Evie Blad — April 28, 2014 1 min read
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A tornado violently ripped through Arkansas Sunday night, killing at least 14 people, and destroying much of Vilonia, a small town about 30 miles north of Little Rock. Damage in Vilonia, which was also the site of a 2011 tornado, included a newly constructed, $12 million intermediate school, which was set to open to students in the fall.

The 3,200-student Vilonia school district had planned to reconfigure grade plans in its existing schools, moving grades 4-6 to the new building. That building was funded by a voter-approved property tax increase that also helped pay for tornado safe rooms in other schools, according to the district’s website. Although tornadoes are common in Arkansas, many buildings do not have basements.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe’s office tweeted as he toured storm damage today.

This tweet, from a reporter, shows the extent of the damage.

Vilonia is a small town still nursing wounds from the previous storm. Also hit by Sunday’s tornado was Mayflower, Ark., which made national headlines when a pipeline burst there last year, pouring thousands of gallons of crude oil into a subdivision.

Photo: A row of lightly damaged houses, top, face destroyed homes in a Vilonia, Ark., neighborhood on April 28 after a tornado struck the town the night before. --Danny Johnston/AP

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.