Editor’s Note: The following was reported by freelancer Rick Kessler, exclusive to RVBUSINESS.com.
Owner John Ward and employees of Mayflower RV/Auto have begun the long process of picking up the pieces after a tornado completely destroyed their Arkansas dealership Sunday night (April 27).
In the wake of the storm, employees at the dealership’s two other locations in Sherwood and Van Buren Townships have been helping their Mayflower co-workers sift through piles of twisted travel trailers, overturned motorhomes, autos and other debris.
To view the devastation, watch this aerial video on YouTube.
The Sherwood location is serving as a drop-off site for people to donate water, food, clothing and other supplies for victims of the tornado. One employee there said a flatbed truck loaded with bottled water had already been dropped off.
A message was delivered to Ward seeking comment, but RVBUSINESS.com was told Ward was understandably too busy to return phone calls. A KATV television reporter, speaking live Monday morning from what used to be the Mayflower RV main building, said employees were also too busy to talk on camera because they were cleaning up the 70 RVs and dozens of autos that had been scattered like toys.
People took to social media to pass along their best wishes to Ward and the Mayflower RV employees.
“We bought our camper from ya’ll 3 years ago, please know our prayers are with all of you & your employees! So sorry for your loss, we hope recovery is fast for you. God Bless,” stated Christy & Bob Utterback of Clarksville, Ark., on Mayflower RV’s Facebook page.
The tornado that hit Mayflower could be rated as the nation’s strongest twister to date this year, according to the National Weather Service. NWS meteorologists reportedly have confirmed it will be rated no lower than EF3, which has winds greater than 136 mph. At least 16 people died, and dozens of homes were leveled.
The tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction as it passed through or near several suburbs north of Little Rock, including Mayflower, The Associated Press reported. It grew to be a half-mile wide and remained on the ground for much of that route, authorities said.
No one was injured at Mayflower RV. An employee on the property surveying damage Monday morning said three people who stayed on the property — two in a mobile home and one in an RV — made it to a basement inside a building that was destroyed and escaped unhurt.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) reported that the Red Cross and Salvation Army are directing relief efforts for the area.
Go to RedCross.org/arkansas or text “redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to disaster relief through your mobile carrier. Charges will apply to the following month’s cellphone bill.
The Salvation Army is accepting donations online at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org, by phone at (800) 725-2769), or by texting “STORM” to 80888 for a $10 donation. Checks made out to Arkansas tornado Relief may be mailed to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 738, North Little Rock, AR 72115-0738.