Governor Declares Emergency in Storm-Hit Counties - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

February 5, 2004

Governor Declares Emergency in Storm-Hit Counties

Flooding, isolated power outages and downed trees were reported Thursday as a system heavy with Gulf moisture slammed Mississippi with powerful storms and drenching rains.

No injuries were reported during the storms that began Wednesday night, but Gov. Haley Barbour said the situation had deteriorated to the point Thursday to warrant his declaring a state of emergency in hardest hit areas.

By late Thursday, most of the severe weather had pushed eastward toward the Mississippi-Alabama line. The heavy rains lingered, however, prompting a flash flood alert until Friday morning for about two dozen counties in central, east and southeast areas.

The state of emergency declaration will "ensure that our citizens are well taken care of and that their needs are met as quickly as possible," Barbour said.

Barbour said all available state resources had been mobilized and that state agencies were standing by to lend assistance to local governments if needed.

In his declaration, Barbour listed several reports of damage, ranging from flash flooding to downed trees and power lines, in Adams, Copiah, Lincoln, Pike, Rankin, Simpson, Tate and Yazoo counties.

In Rankin County, Barbour said three subdivisions in the Richland area had been flooded. In Jackson, two television stations broke into regular programming to carry live reports as firefighters braved the strong current of a flooded canal to verify that no one was trapped inside a partially submerged vehicle.

Forecasters said much improved conditions were expected Friday.

While there were numerous reports of radar-detected tornadoes and wind damage to timber, the only reported tornado damage was in Lauderdale County.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said a mobile home in Collinsville was destroyed Thursday afternoon by a twister. The weather service earlier said the spotters had reported a tornado on the ground in rural Newton County near Hickory.

"We've had heavy rains and its been quite gusty out there this afternoon," said William Broach, who works for the town of Hickory.

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