Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Now, just over a year after the massive spill, devastation has come to Mayflower and neighboring towns again, this time in the form of a lethal tornado. On the evening of April 27, the twister destroyed huge pockets of the town of just over 2,300 citizens in a wholesale manner, with 14 confirmed dead and likely many more still not counted.
“Sadly, we don’t expect it to stay at 14,” tweeted Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. At least 10 died in Faulkner County alone, which houses Mayflower, according to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.
The National Weather Service in Little Rock has given the tornado that hit Mayflower an EF-3 rating on a preliminary basis. EF3 (the highest rating is anEF5) equates to 136–165 mile per hour winds and KATV weatherman Todd Yakoubian tweeted that National Weather Service will have its final rating in by April 30.
On the whole, Arkansas Geographic Information Office has reported that 3,200 addresses in Faulkner County have had various levels of impact.
Fate of Pegasus Pipeline Spill Neighborhoods
According to Mayflower resident Genieve Long, the iconic Mayflower Pegasus pipeline spill cul-de-sac where oil flowed through residents’ backyards and into the streets, was spared.
But the RVs located by the cove connected to Lake Conway — where tar sands oil spilled in the aftermath of the ExxonMobil pipeline rupture and became a key part of an ongoing class action lawsuit — were not so lucky.
Just before she was forced to shower at a truck stop because there is currently no water or electricity in Mayflower, Long told DeSmogBlog “the RVs located along the cove were all taken out.”
A picture tracked down on Twitter by DeSmogBlog testifies to this damage.
Oil and Gas Infrastructure Damage
Soon after the tornado touched ground, gas utilities giant CenterPoint Energyreported gas leaks out of its infrastructure in the area.
“Our company technicians worked primarily in Mayflower and Vilonia to secure nearly 100 natural gas leaks caused primarily by uprooted trees,” Greg Strickland, CenterPoint’s manager in the area said in a press release. “Today we will continue to perform leak surveys in the area to ensure the safety of our customers and our distribution system.”
Another gas utilities giant, Entergy, also reported major infrastructure damage in the area.
“[The] Mayflower 500kv high voltage yard…no longer [has] any switches or breakers left after tornado’s path of destruction,” Entergy wrote on Facebook.
Entergy also explained that “There are lines and poles scattered everywhere in the path of [the] tornado.”
Climate Change Connection? Sort Of
How about climate change? Was this gargantuan tornado tied to climate change in any way, shape or form?