TODAY   |  April 28, 2014

Ark. police chief: Tornado ‘devastating to our city’

Brad McNew, the chief of police in Vilonia, Ark., joins TODAY to discuss the latest on the aftermath of a deadly twister hitting the area.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> let's talk to brad mcnew, the chief of police in hard-hit vilonia, arkansas. chief, good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> can you tell me what you're seeing this morning, what kind of damage you're waking up to? how would you describe it?

>> widespread. it's houses completely down to the foundations. a lot worse than it was three years ago.

>> and i know you've seen many tornados and storms come through that area in your time as police chief . what is the status of the recovery today? are you still considering this a rescue operation ?

>> yes. as soon as it gets daylight, we're going to go through searching one more time to see if we can -- if we missed anybody.

>> the sheriff in your county called this "a mass casualty situation." as far as you know, how many lives have been lost? how many have been injured?

>> i'm not sure out in the county. we've got six in the city. i know that's -- the number is a lot higher.

>> this happened late yesterday. do you feel that folks in your community had sufficient warning? did the tornado sirens go off?

>> yes. the storm warnings went out fairly early. i went to a tornado shelter myself with my family. which was a couple miles away from where we were at. a lot of people in the community were there. and so, it did work. if you see the destruction that is here, even though we've lost some lives, there's many lives that was saved because of the storm warnings .

>> i mentioned that you've been police chief in that area quite some time now. you've seen storms come through. how does this storm and the damage you're seeing now compare to what you've seen in the past?

>> it is just a lot worse. it's just a wider area that it's hit. of course, it went through the main part of town, so just deaf sta -- devastating to our city.

>> we know you have a lot of work ahead of you. thank you for sharing your time with us, sir. appreciate it.

>> uh-huh, thank you.

>> we'll have a lot more on those powerful tornados later