‘God protected us in our house’; Laura destroys Arkansas church as pastor, family ride out storm

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LAKE CITY, Ark. — The National Weather Service reported two possible tornadoes as Laura made its way through Arkansas overnight.

The agency reported one tornado crossed Highway 70 about five miles southwest of Forrest City around 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Another was reported in Lake City which is about 15 miles outside of Jonesboro.

That second suspected tornado nearly flattened Refuge Baptist Church, a staple of the community for decades.

“We could hear the tornado. The house was rumbling, phone and it only lasted about 40 seconds or so,” Paston Steven Hinkle said.

Hinkle, his wife, their 15-year-old son and the family dog rode out the severe weather inside their home next to the church. Once things began to calm, they saw first hand how devastating things were. The roof was gone and items from inside were scattered across the area.

“The pavilion is gone, that most of our family life center is gone. The church building was destroyed. She just starts crying.”

“God protected us in our house,” he added.

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