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Pine Belt tornado damage worse than originally thought

Photo courtesy of TeleSouth Communication Inc.

As response crews with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and volunteer groups continue to asses and clean up from Saturday’s EF-3 tornado that heavily damaged Hattiesburg and Petal, it is becoming more apparent that the destruction may be worse than originally estimated.

MEMA reported 480 homes affected.

“We’re now looking at over 1,000,” said Governor Bryant, “and 388 affected, which means anything from busted windows to missing shingles.”

Governor Bryant said that the next step is to get federal aid for those that have been impacted by the storm.

“What I need to do now is to have to the numbers,” said Gov. Bryant. “There’s a threshold that we will surpass…I will then send a letter to the President asking for a federal declaration of emergency which will then trigger a response from FEMA.”

But there are many things that FEMA won’t be able to replace, like priceless mementos of family history, or treasures of those that have gone on before their loved ones.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann was in Petal this weekend helping with clean up, while a father mourned the loss of his one of his late son’s most prized possessions.

“I asked him(the father), how did that Explorer get so deep into the ground?” said Secretary Hosemann. “It had mud around it, about 3 or 4 inches.”

Hosemann said the truck belonged to the man’s son who had died on the job.

“Well it belonged to my son, he died offshore,” said the father. “I guess I”ll have to get rid of it now.”

And while many have lost their homes and priceless possessions, students of William Carey University have lost their home away from home and their place of study.

“Until I walked through William Carey.. did I absorb the damage there,” said Gov. Bryant. “It is hit so hard.”

Students will continue their studies online, assisted by the University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus, which did not sustain any damage from the storm.

CLICK HERE to help those impacted by the storm.

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