Central Arkansas communities damaged by last year’s tornado are commemorating lives lost and continuing to rebuild as they mark the one-year anniversary of the storm that killed 16 and caused damage to dozens of businesses and homes.
The mayor of Vilonia, James Firestone, said in an interview Monday the city recently built a new playground and re-opened its Veteran’s museum. He said Tuesday night the Vilonia City Council will vote on a “2030 plan,” to seek economic development funding.
“We had a series of town hall meetings, we took the comments and the things we got from the public. We gave some suggestions, we got their feedback and we have compiled a development plan. It will take us the next 15 years to do but at least we have a new direction we’re headed,” said Firestone.
According to Firestone, 159 houses were destroyed by the tornado in Vilonia and nearly a third have been built back. Roughly 21 businesses were destroyed, three new businesses have moved to town since last April.
Mayor Randy Holland said residents also gathered in Mayflower and Conway Monday morning to remember damage. He said many houses have been rebuilt recently with added storm shelters.
“I think we’re doing a lot, lot better. We’re getting a lot of, most of our businesses are back, a lot of people are getting back in their homes and getting back to a normal life. That’s what we were hoping for. We’ve still got a lot of ways to go but it’s just patience. The main thing is Mayflower is real strong,” he said.
Holland said on Tuesday he will announce details of an Arkansas Economic Development Administration grant-funded plan, dubbed the “Future of Mayflower."
Last year's storm tore through Central Arkansas, including areas of Faulkner, Pulaski and White Counties.