Roof torn off Osceola motel, manager hurt

OSCEOLA, Ark. -- It was a wild night for weather across the Mid-South.

A possible tornado touched down in Mississippi County, Arkansas, ripping apart homes and businesses and tearing the roof off the Rodeway Inn motel on Keiser Avenue.

"We just turned around and the roof was gone off of the motel," said guest Sharon Cole.

There are no reports of anyone being seriously hurt, but one of the motel's managers was hit by flying debris.

Frightened guests, like Cole and her husband, were forced to make split-second decisions that might have saved their lives.

"He was looking out the window and when the window broke, I said, ‘We’ve got to take cover. That tornado is coming towards us.’ And we just went in the bathroom and hid," she said.

The couple who manages the motel were in the middle of checking guests in when the chaos ensued.

"I've got this man's credit card in the credit card machine so I'm trying to make sure it comes out, but we didn't have time. About that time, the door just swang open, stuff started falling through the door," said Rodeway Inn manager Lisa Smallwood.

A flying drain pipe hit her husband, dislocating his shoulder and leaving him in a sling.

The couple found people hiding and took them to their own apartment where they thought they might be safer.

"There was people hiding in places we didn't know we had places. They was just coming from everywhere," said Terry Brown.

More than two dozen rooms in the motel are now gone, and the entire back of the building was reduced to nothing more than wood planks, insulation and crumpled metal.

"Everything is damaged, but people are okay," Smallwood said.

The silver lining to an otherwise terrifying ordeal.

The National Weather service is spending Sunday checking out the damage in the area, but it could be a couple of days before they know if it was caused by a tornado or just strong winds.