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Damage Survey of the Mayflower-Vilonia, Arkansas Tornado

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Thursday, 6 November 2014
Capitol Ballroom AB (Madison Concourse Hotel)
Timothy P. Marshall, Haag Engineering Co., Irving, TX; and J. Robinson, E. Kiesling, and L. Tanner
Manuscript (1.9 MB)

On April 27, 2014, an EF-4 tornado struck the communities of Mayflower, Vilonia, and El Paso, Arkansas just northwest of the Little Rock metropolitan area. The tornado traveled 66 km with a maximum path width of about 1300 meters. There were a total of 16 fatalities including one person that was inside an above ground storm shelter and 193 injuries. A damage survey was conducted after the event. This paper will focus on the difficulty in rating tornado damage in rural areas especially when most of the damage indicators (DIs) consisted of poorly built structures. Even newly built homes that were destroyed in the tornado's path had wall bottom plates attached to their concrete slab foundations using tapered steel cut nails. Such an attachment had little resistance to lateral and uplift forces. This paper also will focus on the performance of above ground storm shelters that were installed after an EF-2 tornado occurred three years earlier. Generally, above ground shelters performed well and dozens of people survived. However, one person was killed when the storm shelter door was impacted by a hard object, which deformed the door causing it to open into the shelter.