KEISER, Ark. — As the sun sets on Keiser, though devastation reared it’s head, the small town sees hope on the horizon.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to say the population of Keiser is about double right now,” resident Gary Gardner said.
The community is uniting by blowing away debris and taking the time to pass out hot meals after an EF-1 tornado tore through the town of less than 800 people Saturday night.
Several communities have sent volunteers and the city of Osceola has sent equipment, including several farmers.
People were seen hammering away on the rooftops, trying to save what’s left in the aftermath of the storm that brought 90 mph winds their way.
“When the storm was over, we found this on our porch,” said a resident, who found the bent East Main Street sign that had been tossed by the storm from its original post.
“That was a pretty good hurl,” he said.
In Gary Gardner’s case, once the wind began to blow and storms rolled in, he and his family knew exactly where to hide.
“We went in that storm room, and it was very quick. It was like a hard puff of wind, you could feel it move the house. Then it was a suction,” Gardner said.
Gardner says – after the initial shock of walking out to find the public library with shattered windows, gas pumps leaning over at the only market in town and trees barely holding on- he felt pride creep in.
While the tornado may have shaken the town, it didn’t break their spirit.
“It has been tremendous community effort. Not just Keiser, but surrounding communities,” he said.
In his eyes, that’s a true sign of the town’s resilience in the face of disaster.
“When you realize what’s important, the stuff we can fix is not a big deal,” Gardner said.
It’s going to be a while before many of the businesses are back open.