Already froth with holes in the form of empty buildings, downtown Booneville got a few more holes Sunday night courtesy of Mother Nature, and one man watched it all happen.
At about 8:45 p.m., a severe thunderstorm passed through Booneville ripping off the roof of the building on the northwest corner of the intersection of First and Broadway — the anchor of a commercial district that was last June placed on the National Registry of Historic Places
In addition to rendering the building, which housed a State of Arkansas Revenue Department and Eccles Pediatric and Internal Medicine, unusable, the storm also blew the debris from the roof into both Broadway and Crowley’s City Service, knocking out the front glass and tearing off the awning.
None of the businesses were open so there were no injuries reported.
Booneville Police Department officer Norman Wilder was surprised to find one vehicle damaged and another buried in the metal from the roof after the storm subsided.
"We couldn’t see anything when we responded, it was still over us," said Wilder.
The vehicles were parked in front of the building that bears the name of Wertz. One belongs to Victor Besgulow, the second was parked there by his daughter because she was out of town. In an upstairs apartment inside that building is where Victor Besgulow lives.
"There was this roaring noise. I couldn’t believe it," said Besgulow "I looked out my kitchen window and all I could see was a big sign or something, but I guess it was the metal flying off that roof."
Besgulow compared the sound to a railroad and added it looked as if the walls of the building were moving.
"Most of the time I can look over and see the flag flying (at the U.S. Post Office)," said Besgulow. "I guess it was windy, you couldn’t see anything, all you could hear was noise.
Besgulow said he considers himself lucky the debris did not fly any more toward his home than it did, but he was not frightened.
"If God wants you there’s nothing you can do. You can’t hide," said Besgulow.
Next door Mike Crowley, City Service employees and others were in cleanup mode and boarding up broken windows. Across the street Dr. Richard Eccles and his staff and volunteers hastily moved everything in his practice to an office two doors down — the staff moved again on Monday as it will apparently be the Revenue Office that relocates to that location.
"We’re so thankful to the community for pitching in and helping," said Eccles. "This reinforces the reason why we are in Booneville."
Despite the incident and an expected interruption of service Eccles was upbeat Sunday night due to secure servers.
"This is the wonderful thing about electronic medical records," said Eccles. "All our computer data was safe and secure and we will not miss a beat as far as health care goes."
Shortly after Eccles’ office was hastily moved, Arkansas Highway Department workers used backhoes to push the debris off Broadway, which is also Highway 23.
A fencing barrier was put in place around the edge of the material in front of the Revenue Office and EPIM and caution tape was placed outside Crowley’s City Service.
The storm also knocked out power in portions Logan County. Southwester Electric Power Company reported 454 outages in the Logan County and crews were out in the Magazine are around midnight and again Monday morning.