A tornado tore through southern Mississippi Sunday as part of a larger storm complex that left dozens of people injured, state officials said. No deaths were reported.
“The situation is still dangerous: downed power lines, street flooding. Please stay off roads. Use extreme caution if you must be out,” Gov. Phil Bryant (R-Miss.), who tweeted photos of the damage, said via his Twitter account Monday.
While there were a number of reports of tornadoes throughout Mississippi Sunday, at least one struck down around the southern city of Hattiesburg, the Mississippi governor’s office reported.
“We’ve got major, major structure damage throughout the cities of Petal, Hattiesburg, and Forrest County,” Chip Brown, Forrest County fire coordinator, said in a statement.
Bryant said that Mississippi will “have a couple of teams go down and assess Marion, Lamar, and Forrest Counties, and we’ll find out that information as soon as it becomes available,” according to a press release from his office.
The storm also hit the University of Southern Mississippi’s campus, tearing down trees and damaging several buildings.
“The campus is largely spared, no injuries, all the residence halls are secured, we have not lost power,” stated Dr. Joe Paul, vice president of student affairs. “We really dodged what could have been very horrific for Southern Miss.”
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) stated on their website that “numerous homes, businesses and public buildings sustained significant damage” in Forrest County during the storm Sunday.
Specifically, some 60 people were injured and 200 homes were left damaged after the tornado hit the Hattiesburg area, Bryant said in a press conference, reported the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. He credited the city’s tornado sirens with warning locals 30 minutes before the twister struck down.
“It sounded like Katrina,” Charlotte Walters, a local of Hattiesburg, told The Associated Press, referring to Hurricane Katrina, which hit her neighborhood in 2005.
At least three trees hit the home of another resident, Marie Key. “I’m luck[y], I know that,” she told AP. “I’m kind of past the ‘poor me’ part of it. This is so widespread and it’s happening in so many places. I’m going to be all right.”
Jeff Rent of MEMA said that Mississippi “road crews are out there working very hard right now to get those roads clear” following the storm. “As soon as they do, those first responders get in there and make sure everybody is safe and OK, then they move on to the next area.”
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