At least 3 dead, two dozen injured after tornado causes 'significant damage' in Arkansas

Kenneth Bruton was leaving a grocery store when he got in his pickup, looked back and saw the tornado coming over a hill.

“I got out of my truck and started running for shelter,” Bruton told KARK. The force of the wind knocked him down on his face, he said, but he was able to make it into a salon.

“And as I got in, huddled up against the cement barrier, every single glass window blew out, and people were blown back,” Bruton said. “And I held on. And it must have been a minute just huddled. I thought I was a goner for sure.”

The Arkansas State Emergency Operations Center issued a full activation in response to the severe weather Friday afternoon, according to a statement.

Widespread weather outbreak

On Friday night, severe weather warnings and tornado watches covered a swath from eastern Texas and into Indiana and Ohio, according to the National Weather Service.

In Belvidere, Illinois, about 80 miles northwest of Chicago, one person was killed and dozens were injured when the roof of a live music venue collapsed, authorities said. An initial assessment found that a tornado had likely caused the damage, the Belvidere Police Department said.

Southwest of Indianapolis, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office said that a weather emergency had caused extensive damage in the city of Sullivan, with downed power lines, multiple gas leaks and electrical outages. No deaths were reported, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

More than 94,000 utility customers were without power in Illinois, around 80,000 in Indiana, and more than 65,000 in Arkansas late Friday, according to poweroutage.us.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency on Friday afternoon ahead of the severe weather expected in the western part of the state.

In Tennessee, Tipton County and other areas were under a “tornado emergency” Friday evening. In Covington, police said the city was “impassable,” and crews were trying to clear roads, and search and rescue teams were being organized. No deaths had been reported.

Tornado warnings were issued in Iowa on Friday, and there were reports of tornadoes on the ground.

Video shared by NBC affiliate KWWL of Waterloo, Iowa, showed damage to buildings in Coralville, a city of around 22,000 adjacent to Iowa City.

Flash flooding from thunderstorms also posed a risk from Midwest to the Lower Mississippi Valley on Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The areas with the greatest risk for flooding through Friday night are across the Ohio, Tennessee, and Lower Mississippi valleys.

The severe weather comes a week after tornadoes hit Mississippi and Alabama, killing 26 people and causing widespread damage.

Emma Li , Cristian Santana, Kurt Chirbas and Dennis Romero contributed.

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