Little Rock tornado survivor explains why he took a tornado warning ‘seriously for the first time'

Little Rock, Arkansas, resident Mike Green shared his harrowing experience of surviving the high-end EF3 tornado that caused significant destruction to his home Friday.

Green, a resident of the Stone Bridge neighborhood of Little Rock for eight years, has experienced countless tornado warnings, but his property had never been directly hit by a twister until March 31. On that day, Green was working at his home office when he heard on the news that a wall cloud had formed over Little Rock.

"I actually saw the wall cloud. So I took it seriously for the first time in my life. I took a tornado warning seriously," Green told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell.

The lifelong Little Rock resident stood up from his desk, quickly grabbed his wallet and phone and ran downstairs to take cover in his basement.

Mike Green's home following the EF3 Little Rock tornado. (AccuWeather/Bill Wadell)

"I decided this was serious, and I needed to get off my butt and get out of here and ran," Green explained.

Once in the basement, Green had initially planned to turn on the TV so he could listen to the weather, but before he was able to, a frightening freight trainlike sound began. Green decided the best course of action would be to get as underground as possible and hide under a door.

Within minutes, the "rushing" noise from the tornado began to amplify as Green's house was torn apart. Green said the wind's howling was so loud that he couldn't hear any of the destruction happening.

"The sound of the wind just overwhelms everything else. And it was maybe five seconds, probably less than that," Green said, adding that he couldn't believe how quickly it hit.

After the tornado passed, Green opened the door and saw the destruction caused by the large tornado. The damage to his home was extensive, and the air was dust-filled.


"There was just like a smoke bomb had gone off," Green described, and he added, "I was afraid to come out, because I wasn't sure if it was over."

The room Green had just been working in moments earlier suffered extensive damage. A door in the room was torn off and flung behind a table. A large portion of the wall near where Green had been sitting was knocked down. The window from which Green had seen the wall cloud was gone entirely.

"I would have been under all of this," Green reflected as he showed Wadell the damage.

Mike Green's home office after the EF3 tornado hit. (AccuWeather / Bill Wadell)

Green credits his basement and the weather reports for helping keep him safe during the tornado.

"The weather people had us alerted full time, and the sirens are going off too. So that helped," Green said.

The EF3 tornado that tore through Little Rock on the afternoon of March 31 was one of four that triggered tornado emergency on that day. These alerts are typically reserved for rare situations when a severe threat to human life is imminent or ongoing and catastrophic damage is imminent or ongoing. The tornado outbreak was responsible for at least 31 fatalities and spawned at least 66 confirmed twisters -- the largest outbreak for the year to date.

The basement Green took cover in was surrounded by cinder blocks and brick walls. Despite it suffering broken windows from the tornado, the area remained sturdy enough to keep Green out of harm's way.

"I don't know if I'll ever be able to sleep upstairs again," Green reflected.

AccuWeather forecasters urge people to take every tornado warning seriously because not all tornadoes will be visible. Tornadoes can become rain-wrapped and challenging to observe, creating no visual that allows a person to see that danger is incoming. Tornadoes can also strike quickly, such as during the March 31 outbreak when some were moving as fast as 60-70 mph. It is highly recommended to heed any tornado warning because your life may depend on it.

Everybody on Green's street was also OK following the disaster. One of Green's neighbors had just moved in the day the tornado hit, and another neighbor had moved in just two weeks prior.

"Everybody's OK. There was somebody pinned in on Buttermilk Drive over here, but they got out OK," Green said.

Volunteers have been working to clean up devastated areas of Little Rock for days, offering any help they can to families that lost nearly everything. Little Rock resident and cleanup volunteer Jeff Turk told Wadell that he witnessed the tornado from his seventh-floor office building.

"It's totally different getting on the ground though. I mean, seeing that from the air is one thing, but then getting in the neighborhoods and seeing what people are having to go through. People are losing everything," Turk said.

Volunteers have been working to clear roads, clean up fallen trees and branches, helping people to reach their homes and cars and get back to some normalcy.

Additional reporting by AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell.

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