CINCINNATI, Ark. - At the crack of dawn Monday the roar of chainsaws, generators and backhoes in this small rural farming community was heard as the town folks began the painstaking process of clearing away debris and looking for personal belongings.
"It's cleanup time – then rebuilding," said Rev. Andy Newbill, the pastor of the community's United Methodist Church.
The church has been serving as a makeshift information center for the town's 150 residents, handing out food, clothing, water and other toiletries.
"God will get us through this," Newbill said. "We see God in the people that are reaching out to our community."
Three residents were killed and 14 homes were heavily damaged or destroyed, including the community's fire station, in the rare New Year Eve's tornado in this western Arkansas town about two miles from the Oklahoma border.
The dead were among seven killed in storms in Arkansas and Missouri.
"Recovery is still under way but the town plans on rebuilding," said Washington County Emergency Management Director John C. Luther.
The National Weather Service said the tornado formed around 6 a.m. and registered as an EF-3 with winds at about 140 mph.
"They call it a 'long track,'" Luther said.
The storm was 500 yards wide and was 21 miles long, he said.
Washington County officials are gathering data to see if Arkansas state officials can offer any assistance, Luther said.
Truckloads of twisted and broken metal were hauled away Monday leaving a 60-by-80-foot concrete pad where the fire station once stood.
Five residents remain hospitalized, Luther said.
One of the most seriously injured Friday was Nell Porter.
With a broken neck and multiple broken bones, the 95-year-old grandmother lay in the middle of the highway in the rain for more than two hours waiting for rescue workers to reach her, said Barbara Porter, Nell's daughter-in-law.
Porter remains in critical condition at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville with two broken bones in her neck, a broken hip and leg, and a broken sternum, family members said.
"She is really such a precious person," Barbara Porter said. "I don't know why she has to suffer - but there must be a reason."
Gerald Dean Wilson, 88, and his wife, Mamie Wilson, 78, and their neighbor James Richard "Dick" Murray, 78, all died near their homes.
Murray was found near his dairy barn. He and his son, Mike Murray, had been milking cows when the tornado hit, authorities said.
Several local farmers took in Murray's surviving dairy cows.
Four calves and one cow were killed in the storm, said Eddie Claysbrook, a farmer.
"Several two-by-fours were pulled out (of the cows) and large (tree) limbs were pulled out of the calves," Claysbrook said.
The Murrays' dairy operations were milking more than 100 cows a day, he said.
The powerful winds also knocked down 2-foot thick gray stone walls from a 1930s WPA-built schoolhouse.
The Meade family bought the old stone-built schoolhouse in 1970 and did some minor remodeling and made it into their home.
"I didn't think anything could bring down this house," said Jack Meade, who lives in the home with his mother, Belva Meade, and sister, Linda.
"They built it well - tongue and groove solid wood," Meade said.
The Meade homestead was appraised at $56,000, he said.
"It's a total loss," Meade said. "We don't know what we are going to do."