Arkansas tornado destroys home of doctor whose touching photo with 1-year-old son went viral

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JONESBORO, Ark. — A powerful tornado ripped through northeast Arkansas on Saturday, injuring six people and destroying homes and businesses.

Among those who lost their homes was a doctor whose touching photo with his son went viral recently.

Dr. Jared Burks is a first-year resident on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic at a hospital in Arkansas.

As his one-year-old son Zeke learns to crawl, Burks can only visit him separated by glass.

A photo taken by his wife Alyssa Burks has gotten thousands of likes and shares, with people praising him for his work helping others. Dr. Burks had been staying away from his family for two weeks and that photo captured the moment he first saw his son crawl.

Burks was inside the home when the tornado hit and survived, his wife says.

Alyssa Burks wrote on Facebook: “We are all safe. Our house is gone. Jared was inside, but he survived by the grace of God. Zeke and I were at my mom’s house. Please pray for us as we begin to pick up the pieces. “

A GoFundMe page has been started for the Burks family.

The tornado injured at least six people, who were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries, Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley said. The tornado did major damage at the Mall at Turtle Creek and Jonesboro Municipal Airport.

Stores were closed at the mall to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Without that closure, the injuries could have been more worse, Presley said.

“At 5 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon that place would’ve been packed, and at this point there was hardly anyone in there,” Presley said. “It’s a blessing in disguise.”

Power was out in sections of the city, which affects the city’s traffic lights. Wreckage tossed about by the twister also blocked roads. They mayor issued a 7 p.m. curfew, and authorities asked people not to drive around.

The storm also derailed a train, Presley said. Crews were examining damage and trying to determine whether there it had been hauling anything hazardous.

Search and rescue crews are continuing to look through the wreckage for more possible victims.

The National Weather Service reported other possible tornadoes Saturday in Illinois and Iowa.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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