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Ozark County battered on Wed. by storm winds


A thunderstorm with wind gusts measuring up to 68 mph Wednesday night downed trees and power lines across roads in Ozark County. While most of the damage impacted the western part of the county, the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office reported a driver in Bakersfield, located in the southeast corner, was unhurt when a tree fell on a moving car.

Local storm reports started rolling in to the National Weather Service office in Springfield at 7:20 p.m, beginning with a report from Theodosia that 1-inch tree limbs were breaking in the wind and shingles were blowing off of rooftops. Just 13 minutes later in the same community, submitted reports mentioned trees uprooted and snapped, and a roof blown off of a structure.

The initial reports continued in Ozark County through about 8 p.m., when the tree reportedly fell onto the moving car in Bakersfield. The reports paint a vivid picture: In Sundown, about 2 miles southeast of Theodosia, power was reported out at 7:25 p.m., trees were down in the park and marina docks and walkways had broken loose.

In Pontiac on Norfork Lake, “many trees” were reported down at 7:30 p.m., including one on a house, and power was out from Pontiac to Highway 5. Another report from Pontiac, with a report from Gainesville about 14 miles northeast echoing it, said power lines were down on Highway 5 at the Arkansas State Line, and on W Highway, as well.

Flooding was reported in Udall, about 8 miles west of Bakersfield, with about 3 to 4 feet of water over the road by 7:55 p.m. Incidentally, according to the NWS, Udall recorded the highest amount of rainfall in the storm across the county, 4.83 inches of rain. Even the lowest amount recorded was substantial — a weather station in Tecumseh reportedly collected 3.35 inches.

The Ozark County Sheriff’s Office posted an extensive list of known damage reports at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday to its Facebook page in an effort to ensure nothing was overlooked, and Thursday morning, the Theodosia Chamber of Commerce Facebook page was filled with shares of local businesses reporting closures for the day, possibly the remainder of the week, citing the need to clean up or the lack of power or water.

Bakersfield Fire Chief Greg Watts took to social media himself Thursday to express awe and thanks to the numerous area agencies that turned out in response to the storm.

“What a storm last night that rolled through, Ozark County was hit hard on the western side,” he wrote on the Bakersfield Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page. He described EE Highway being "slammed" with three large trees, a car in one, and working alongside “some awesome people” before extending thanks to those who helped in the cleanup efforts: Missouri State Highway Patrol; Tecumseh and Caulfield fire departments; Ozark County Road & Bridge Department; the Missouri Department of Transportation, which supplied a backhoe; Howell-Oregon Electric Co-op; Ozark County Emergency Management; the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office dispatch, who checked on the crews as they worked; and his own Bakersfield Fire Department personnel.

“Thank you all very much,” he concluded. “When storms knock down trees and darkness is on us we are going to be a little more cautious.”

Storm damage was also reported in north central Arkansas, primarily in Baxter, Fulton and Sharp counties: Shortly before 8 p.m., Mtn. Home reported a 68 mph wind gust and power outages, multiple trees and power lines down on roads and large tree limbs and shingles blown down by the wind.

A widespread power outage was reported just after 8:30 p.m. in Wheeling, near Salem, and about half an hour later, officials in Ash Flat reported multiple trees down across Sharp County, blocking roads.

As of 12:30 p.m. Thursday, White River Valley Electric Cooperative, which provides power to residents of Ozark and Douglas County in Missouri and one member in Baxter County, reported 1,139 members remain without electricity, the overwhelming majority, 1,016, being in Ozark County. The Baxter County member was also without power, as were 97 in Douglas County.

By 10:30 a.m. Friday, 496 members in Ozark County remained without electricity, while power had been restored to all in Douglas County and Baster County.