Tornado hits county homes
by Courtney Warren and Paisley Boston
Dec 24, 2013 | 3357 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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While much of Cleveland remained untouched during Saturday night’s storm, a great deal of damage was done in the county.

In Cleveland, area shoppers were forced to take cover when sirens went off inside stores.

On Township Road families closed themselves up in interior closets and Billy Herbison said his family felt the carpet coming up from the floors.

Their 30-foot-tall workshop, which housed the family dog Cotton, was in a heap on the ground Sunday morning.

After the storm passed Herbison went outside to check on the dog and found that her pen had been picked up and she got out.

Cotton was O.K. and ready to assist Herbison with repairs.

On Sunday morning Herbison was attempting to rebuild a pen for Cotton next to the fallen workshop.

The family's trampoline was wrapped around a telephone pole several yards away and a playhouse and swing set was flipped over and destroyed.

The yard was littered with debris from the fallen workshop as well as aluminum pieces from the roof wrapped into the limbs of a nearby tree.

The Hunt family, who lives a few houses down from Herbison, said the wind was coming so hard that it was causing the closet they had taken refuge in to shake, with the door rattling on its hinges.

Several of their neighbors had destroyed sheds due to fallen trees.

Throughout the day Bill Quinton, director of the EMA kept Facebook friends and followers updated with weather reports giving information such as, "winds could reach 70 miles an hour. Tornados can form from this front, please be prepared to take immediate cover.

"Those of you who need immediate shelter, Sheriff (Kelvin) Williams has opened the Bolivar County Courthouse in Cleveland. Not saying a tornado is imminent, but I would rather be safe than sorry when giving safety information.

"Please keep away from windows even if only straight line winds, debris can be blown through windows also."

Many Bolivar County residents checked Quinton's Facebook as well as local weather channels for these updates.

After the winds calmed and the storms passed it was discovered that there were no injuries in Bolivar County.

Quinton also said a survey was done with the national weather service and results showed "It was one tornado with 115 mile an hour winds."

According to Cheryl Comans, customer service manager for Cleveland Entergy, approximately 1,800 customers in West Bolivar experienced power outages.

"At exactly 5:20 p.m. the weather damaged about three of our transmission structures between Greenville and Stringtown," Comans said.

Comans said that weather conditions on distributor lines and not the transmitters caused some of the damage and scattered power outages.

"The same storm caused approximately 600 customers to be without power between Renova and Merigold. "We had a large number of scattered outages throughout the county that were due to the weather and not the transmitters," she said.

According to the National Weather Service the winds of a tornado can range from 74 mph in a minimal storm to greater than 155 miles per hour. Accurate readings of high wind gusts during landfall are difficult to obtain because wind-speed measuring devices at reporting stations can be ripped from their foundations.

Wind is responsible for much of the structural damage caused by tornados. High winds can uproot trees and tear down power lines.

The maximum winds from fast moving and powerful storms may remain high, even when the storm is well inland.

"We were already anticipating the bad weather. We received our first call from a resident in Rosedale and we were able to respond immediately," added Comans.

Power was restored to a large number of residents on Saturday around 11 p.m. but some residents continued to suffer from the aftermath of the storm on Sunday.

"From 4 p.m. Sunday until 8 p.m. Rosedale and Pace had outages due to the damage that was on the transmission line. This was a force outage. The entire county was back on my 7 p.m. Sunday," she added.

The Coahoma Community College Campus felt the strength of a line of storms that pushed their way across the state of Mississippi on Saturday night. Straight-line winds, or downbursts, were reported at speeds of 60-70 mph and left destruction and death in their paths.

Fortunately for the CCC family, no persons were injured, only property that was concentrated near the portion of campus that houses the college’s football stadium.

“That’s the best news about the storms for CCC,” said Public Relations Director Matthew Killebrew, “that our students were not on campus and were off for the Christmas holiday.

“After checking out the campus late Saturday evening with (Director of Building and Grounds and Maintenance) Mr. Jerone Shaw, it looks as if the damage is concentrated near the football field. There is some other damage but the heaviest damage is near and around the stadium.”

The roof of the James E. Miller Stadium’s concession stand was torn completely off its base, and damage to the doors of the Career and Technical Building body shop also sustained some damage. Fences were blown down and debris was littered throughout the campus, but there was no evidence of an actual tornado touching down.

Some of the best evidence of the power of the Saturday storms were the football stadium’s giant light poles that were located on the visitor’s side of the field. Two of them were bent 90 degrees at their base and draped backwards resting over the banks of Mackey Lake.

All power was lost on campus at one time, with the majority being restored last night with the rest expected to be restored today. Reports in Northern Mississippi had power outages to nearly 22,000 residents and nearby in Rena Lara, a man lost his life when his trailer home was blown over and he was pinned against a tree.

Many other reports filtered in last night of homes damaged, and property lost throughout Coahoma and surrounding counties. Another death was reported in Jasper County (west of Jackson, MS) caused by a tree limb falling onto a car. The driver of that vehicle was pronounced dead, with the passenger critically injured. A home in Tunica County was reported as “blown into the road” by local news stations and damage to homes, property were also reported in Bolivar County.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those that were affected by the storms this evening,” said Killebrew. “We will begin to better assess the damage to our campus (Sunday) and begin to move forward with clean-up and repair efforts.”