Storms cause major damage in Lamar County

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM)- Monday night's storm made its mark across the Mississippi Pine Belt.

A number of houses in Lamar County were struck by lightning, and four businesses reported storm damage including downed power lines and up-rooted trees.

"Most of that damage is going to be from high winds," said Hattiesburg Fire Chief David Webster.

It wasn't only the wind that caused damage to Immanuel Baptist Church in Hattiesburg. At around 7 p.m. the Hattiesburg Fire Department got word the church had gone up in flames.

"We had about 20 or 25 people here. As far as the major fire, it probably took a couple hours to get it completely under control, then, we had a smoldering fire from there," said Webster.

Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, David Williamson, said although a portion of the church is a total loss, he's thankful no one was in the building at the time of the fire.

"We can make do without, it's just gonna cause us to be creative in how we attempt to do ministry. So, it's a loss. I'm just grateful that, we have a janitor that works often at night, I'm glad that he was not here. A building can be replaced, a life cannot be," said Williamson.

The fire department deemed what was left of the building as unsafe, and was on-site tearing down what the storm left behind. Investigator Scott McRaney said, lightning may have been the cause of the fire.

"Well it is a possibility but as far as an official ruling, we haven't got all our information gathered," said McRaney. "There was an electrical storm last night, so it does kind of look like it's headed in that direction."

A little further West, in Lake Serene, a tornado ripped through the center of a home on Sailfish Circle.

Homeowner Curt Redden said, "We actually saw it coming. It left the dam and I would say, that it took maybe three to five seconds to get completely across the lake, it pulled up one tree, and by that time I had yelled at my wife to get away from the windows and run for the inner circle of the house. We had less than a second before it hit."

Redden and his wife are thankful to be alive, but they didn't come out completely unscathed.

"I had gotten out of the kitchen about a second in front of her, there was lots of glass flying, but no damage done to me. My wife was not quite as fortunate, she took some bruises and some cuts in the head."

Ten years ago, the Redden's took so much time and effort to build what they call their perfect home, Monday night, mother nature just took seconds to destroy it.

This isn't the first time their home has incurred the wrath of mother nature, said Redden, nearly seven years ago, roof tiles were ripped off from a tornado, but nothing of this magnitude.

"About half the house is gone and we are thankful that we both are still alive and that we were able to dodge the glass and flying debris."

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