TUPELO, Miss.–At least nine tornadoes were reported to have been on the ground Monday in Mississippi and at least eight people died. Six of those were in Winston County. At least one person died when a tornado tore through Tupelo and stayed on the ground as it left Lee County.
The coroner there reported one person died in Verona.
The area just south of Barnes Crossing mall was hardest hit, with hundreds of homes destroyed.
Richard Cross and Matt Wyatt of Head to Head radio were on the scene within minutes of the tornado’s touchdown.
“Certainly the rebuilding process in Tupelo is gonna take time,” said Cross. “There were houses with trees through the roofs, cars with trees on top of them and people who lost absolutely everything.”
He said there were power lines down everywhere near where the twister hit. Power was out for much of the city after two TVA substations were reported to have been damaged.
Popular restaurants and businesses were hit and homes were destroyed.
“It sounded like a big train just hit the side of the house and it just went straight across all the way down the side of the house,” said one woman whose home was damaged.
In Winston County at least six people died when a tornado hit the southern and eastern parts of Louisville.
Winston Medical Center was hit and a mobile hospital was set up, with the help of a crew from UMMC in Jackson, who brought a potable pediatric unit.
“We honestly felt God’s hand of protection around us. The clinic is destroyed, but we’re all safe. We were praying the whole time,” said workers at the hospital.
Not everyone was safe, though. A trailer park in a rural part of the county took a hit and at least four people were killed when the tornado hit homes.
There was heavy damage in the Four Corners area and near the Louisville Country Club.
WCBI reported that a shelter was set up at First Methodist Church in downtown Louisville. If needed, First Baptist Church will open for additional space.
Nanih Waiya Attendance Center was also open as a shelter.
Louisville Municipal Schools will be closed through Thursday.
It was also reported that state Sen. Giles Ward’s home was heavily damaged in the Louisville area.
Another tornado scraped across the southern part of the Jackson metro area, killing one woman as she drove down Hwy. 49 in Richland. That tornado continued its destructive path through Brandon and may have stayed on the ground all the way through Scott County.
And yet another tornado caused damage in Madison County in the Lake Caroline area.
The damage and injury tabulations were continuing through Tuesday morning. In Tupelo and Louisville, the message was “stay away” if you don’t have business there, and the Miss. National Guard was called out to help local law enforcement enforce that decree.