Andrew Dillard’s 3-year-old son said the tornado that took the roof off his family’s home last weekend was like something out of a familiar story. His father, though, knew it was something much worse.
“My son said the big bad wolf blew his house down. It was pretty bad, though. Everything was circulating,” Dillard said the day after the storm blew through their neighborhood on Sandstone Drive in Van Buren.
The storm hit the Dillard’s house late Friday night and Saturday afternoon, after a long day of cleanup and trying to get a grip on what had happened the night before, Dillard took a moment to recount what his family had gone through.
“The power went out and we went to sleep,” he said. “All of the sudden the power came back on, maybe around 11:30 p.m. The lights woke us up and we turned them off and went back to sleep.”
Then, he continued, “A strange noise woke us up, we felt something hit the house, we got up and sprinted towards the kids’ rooms. We made it to the kitchen and that’s when the windows blew out. We went up and then all of the sudden we went down.”
Dillard’s children were sleeping in two different rooms, the 3-year-old in a bunk bed in one room and a 1-year-old daughter in a crib in her room, the only room in the house in which the roof stayed intact.
“We sprinted to our little girl’s room and she was crying in her crib,” he said. “I put her in the bathtub with my wife and went to my son’s room. Luckily he was on the bottom bunk because the roof in his room had collapsed. I had to kick the door in and got him out along with his mattress. I put him in the bathtub, covered all three of them up with the mattress and laid on top of them for about five minutes and then it was over.”
Dillard said he was the only one of the four to receive injuries.
“I have some spots on me that super glue fixed,” he said. “But there wasn’t a scratch on them.”
Dillard and his neighbors up and down the street received a lot of help from friends and family over the weekend as they worked to clean up in the tornado’s wake.
“The Arkansas Army National Guard, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade has been a great help,” said Dillard, himself a member of the guard. “The neighbors and local churches have been a great help, too. They came to our aid immediately.”
When asked if there was anything he’d like to say to the community, he paused and answered, “Thanks for everything.”