TODAY   |  April 28, 2014

Arkansas man: ‘We lost everything’ in tornado

Clayton Noble, a Vilonia, Ark., resident, tells TODAY about how his family suffered in the deadly tornado that hit the area. The town’s mayor, James Firestone, tells TODAY, “We have a big task in front of us.”

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

>> let's bring in james firestone, he's the mayor of vilonia, arkansas. he's with us now along with a couple of survivors of that tornado, bobby herndon and clayton noble. good morning and thank you for joining us.

>> good morning.

>> mr. mayor, let me start with you. as janet mentioned, these storms struck about 8:00 in your area, so it got dark shortly after they came through. now there's daylight. what's it revealing?

>> well, we were out last night after the storm went through, and walked through and surveyed the damage, and we kind of knew what we were going to see this morning. we were hit by a tornado, an ef-2 in 2011 , which was three years and two days exactly to the date. and the devastation we had then was not near as bad as what we had this time. before we had a lot of roofs blown off, fences blown down, that type of thing. this time, as you can see behind us, houses are reduced to rubble. people's belongings completely destroyed, scattered, and it's a lot of debris to deal with. we have a big task in front of us trying to get this cleaned up.

>> you mentioned houses behind you that have been reduced to rubble. mr. noble, unfortunately, i understand one of those homes is yours on that street. what have you lost?

>> no, sir, actually, the home behind us belongs to the gentleman beside me. my home was not damaged. i live on the west side of town.

>> no, i was speaking to mr. noble.

>> okay.

>> lost everything. we're on our way down there to reclaim something. everything was gone.

>> where were you when the storm struck, mr. noble? were you able to get to a shelter of some kind?

>> no, we didn't. we got -- we took shelter in my daughter's closet. me, my wife, and three kids, i just did what i knew to do and huddled down on top of them and held them.

>> are they okay?

>> everybody is okay. as far as everybody that was in that closet.

>> that is a blessing. mr. mayor, let me go back to you for a second. are there still people in your community unaccounted for? what are your priorities right now? what do you need?

>> we're still in the process of trying to search all of the debris and make sure that we have everyone accounted for. last night, it was -- of course, in the darkness, it was tough. we had our first responders. we divide the city up into nine grids. they went out, they did a very thorough search to make sure that nobody was left hurt and laying in the rubble. that carried over way up into the morning. they're going to come back through again and do a more thorough search, and hopefully sometime this afternoon we'll be letting folks back in, you know, to try to search through their belongings.

>> mayor firestone, bobby herndon, clayton noble. mr. noble, i'm sorry about the loss of your home. i'm happy your family is okay and i thank you for joining us this morning.

>> thank you.