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Weekend tornadoes bring neighbors together

The National Weather Service in Jackson confirmed two tornadoes touched down in Mississippi over the weekend. NWS confirmed an EF-3 tornado touched down in Columbus while an EF-0 tornado caused damage in Artesia.

The Columbus tornado was 10 miles in length and 1/4 of a mile wide. It was on the ground for 16 minutes.

NWS Jackson survey team confirms an EF-3 tornado in the city of Columbus in Lowndes Co. #mswx pic.twitter.com/jJsCJeAtox

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann visited Columbus the day after the tornadoes tore through the area and said the city and its people need a lot of help as it was very traumatic.

“In the Columbus area, the tornado really just kind of bounced along,” said Hosemann. “It was unusual. It probably had a half a mile or longer chart that it went over, but when we looked at it, it was like it hit one house and then it would bounce up and skip two or three others”

While one woman was killed as a result of injuries sustained during the tornado, Hosemann says it could have been much worse.

“When you see those houses and those buildings that collapsed around them, it is pretty amazing that anybody survived,” Hosemann said. “Some of them were under their desks and a wall fell on the desks to protect them from the next wall that fell down on top of them.

Hosemann added that things were very organized and state assets were mobilized quickly, however, he said he was greatly encouraged by the number of people willing to help with clearing debris and fixing the damages.

“All of a sudden about 11 or 12 o’clock people just started coming from everywhere,” said Hosemann. “They were climbing up on the roofs, nailing down tarps, hauling logs out of the back yards. Stacking debris up on the street and I know that they didn’t know these people. There is no race, color, creed, national origin, or economics that go into these people helping each other. Mississippi is just a big neighborhood and our neighbors were coming out yesterday.”

Hosemann added that if people want to help, they need to sign in with the community center so that they will be sent to the places that need the most immediate assistance.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has received additional damage reports from more than 30 counties due to severe storms and tornadoes on February 23rd, along with flooding that started on February 19th and is still ongoing throughout the state.

MEMA said the damage reports serve only as initial assessments from the county emergency management offices and will change, either higher or lower, as additional reports and assessments are sent to MEMA.

So far, 300 residences, 190 roads and bridges and 30 businesses are affected statewide. The number does not include damage assessments in Lowndes County. Those numbers are yet to be determined.

Initial damage reports by county (assessments ongoing):

Alcorn: Assessments ongoing
Calhoun: 54 homes and 20 roads damaged.
Carroll: Assessments ongoing
Chickasaw: One home and 14 roads damaged.
Clarke: Homes damaged, three businesses and two roads damaged.
Clay: 69 homes and 12 roads
Coahoma: Assessments delayed due to flooding
Grenada: 100 homes and 22 businesses damaged. Six roads damaged.
Humphreys: Assessments delayed due to flooding
Issaquena: One home and five roads damaged.
Itawamba: 41 roads damaged.
Lafayette: Assessments ongoing
Lee: 60 homes damaged; some roads inaccessible.
Lincoln: One home damaged; Roads damaged or inaccessible.
Lowndes: NWS Jackson confirmed tornado; awaiting damage reports from the county; widespread power outages. Multiple injuries reported. MEMA Personnel have been deployed to the city of Columbus for initial damage assessments.
Madison: Assessments ongoing
Monroe: Assessments ongoing
Montgomery: Assessments ongoing
Noxubee: One home damaged
Pontotoc: Assessments ongoing
Prentiss: 34 roads damaged
Quitman: Assessments ongoing
Rankin: One home damaged.
Sharkey: Three homes and four roads damaged.
Simpson: One business damaged.
Smith: Six roads and three bridges damaged.
Sunflower: Homes and roads damaged or inaccessible.
Tallahatchie: 35 homes and 29 roads damaged.
Tishomingo: NWS Memphis Confirmed tornado; two homes and 22 roads damaged; two bridges damaged
Tunica: Three roads damaged
Union: Assessments ongoing
Warren: Assessments ongoing
Washington: Assessments ongoing
Webster: Two homes and multiple roads damaged.
Yalobusha: Assessments ongoing
Yazoo: Assessments ongoing
Open Shelters: All Shelters Operated and Maintained by the American Red Cross and staffed by the MS Department of Human Services

Lee County: Bancorp South Arena – 375 Main Street, Tupelo, MS 38801
Lowndes County: Townsend Community Center – 826 15th Street, Columbus, MS 39701
Tallahatchie County: National Guard Armory – 409 S Cossar Avenue, Charleston, MS 38921
The State Emergency Operations Center is activated and monitoring any requests or unmet needs from the county emergency management offices.

The public is encouraged to report damage to homes or businesses to their county emergency management office. A directory of all the offices can be found at http://www.msema.org/county-ema/

MEMA will provide updates as information becomes available. The best way to get up-to-date information during this event is to “Like” MEMA on Facebook, or “Follow” us on twitter @msema.

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