HATTIESBURG, Miss.–One of Hattiesburg’s most memorable natural disasters happened two years ago today. An EF4 tornado slammed Oak Grove, Hattiesburg and Petal. No one was killed, but the destruction was major. This week is Tornado Preparedness Week, a time to look back and ahead.
Looking back on the Hattiesburg twister, USM took a direct hit. Since then, much of the damage has been repaired and buildings rebuilt. But the scars are still very visible.
The National Weather Service Jackson office joined Memphis and New Orleans for a Google Hang Out event online. Meteorologist Joanne Culin talked about last year’s twisters.
“Last year there were 40 tornadoes across the state,” she said. “That was actually above the average of 30. Most of the tornadoes were in April alone. Just about all of those occurred on one single day, and that was April 28.”
Culin talked about the Tupelo twister, and others that caused significant damage and loss of life.
“The strongest, everybody remembers on the 28th, was an EF4 tornado that went through Louisville and Winston County.”
And that is where the First Lady and MEMA planned a 9 a.m. Tuesday press conference, at Louisville Elementary, to introduce Delta the Disaster Dog, Pearl the Preparedness Pup and Jake the Mitigation Wizard, for the launch of a new statewide campaign developed by MEMA to introduce children to disaster preparedness.
Louisville lost its hospital to the twister. Also lost were manufacturing jobs when the tornado hit a plywood plant that has since reopened.