LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK/NEXSTAR) – Many parts of the South and Midwest are still reeling on Saturday morning from a destructive storm system that tore through several states and left at least 18 dead and hundreds more injured.
At least five were reported dead in Arkansas after a series of devastating tornadoes, including four in the eastern Arkansas town of Wynne and one in North Little Rock. A state of emergency has been declared across the state, with the Arkansas National Guard having been activated to aid in the response.
Much of the damage in the Arkansas’ capital city happened on the west side of Little Rock, where businesses in a shopping area had their roofs ripped off and windows blown out — all while customers were inside. In the parking lot, a car was flipped, landing on its top, where it remained Saturday morning.
In North Little Rock, resident Zachary Phillips told Nexstar’s KARK it was like being in “a warzone,” and that he and his neighbors in the areas of Osage and Pontiac Drives saw roofs ripped off homes, cars cleaved in two and trees toppled.
“It feels like a warzone almost like a bomb went off right here,” Phillips said. “It just brought the entire front deck out to the front and everybody was panicking.”
Elsewhere, storms left over a dozen others dead, including seven in Tennessee, at least one in Alabama, three in Indiana, one in Mississippi and one in Illinois, when the roof collapsed at the Apollo Theater in Belvidere, where a heavy-metal concert was scheduled to take place.
“I literally just got into the building. I was in there within a minute before it came down,” concert-goer Gabrielle Lewellyn told WTVO. “The wind, when I was walking up to the building, it went from like, zero to a thousand within five seconds.”
Video shared to Twitter from inside the venue appeared to be patrons attempting to rescue people from beneath a pile of rubble on the main floor. Some screamed for help lifting large pieces of roofing and debris off of people they believed to be under the rubble.
“There was a bunch of people that went over, and they lifted a piece of the ceiling off of whoever was under there, and … those people should be … commemorated,” Lewellyn said, becoming emotional. “Those people deserve recognition for what they did.”
There were more confirmed twisters in Iowa and wind-whipped grass fires blazed in Oklahoma, as the storm system threatened a broad swath of the country home to some 85 million people. Police in west Tennessee had also said on Facebook that areas had become impassible after power lines and trees fell on roads.
The destructive weather came as President Joe Biden toured the aftermath of a deadly tornado that struck in Mississippi one week ago and promised the government would help the area recover.
“Folks, I know there’s a lot of pain and that it’s hard to believe, at a moment like this, this community is going to be rebuilt, and rebuilt and built back better than it was before,” Biden said during a speech in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, on Friday, The Hill reported.
“The resilience of this community has been remarkable,” he continued. “And I just want you to know, as you fight through this, you’re not alone. The American people will be with you. They’ll help you through it, and so will I.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.