MEMA reports 12 deaths statewide - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

MEMA reports 12 deaths statewide

RANKIN COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

According to MEMA, Monday's system brought the development of tornadoes ranging from EF-2 to EF-4 which packed winds of more than 166 miles per hour.

Executive Director Robert Latham reports that there are 12 confirmed fatalities. Nine were in Winston County, one in Rankin, one in Issaquena and one in Lee county. Search and rescue efforts continued Tuesday night.

Officials said an EF2 twister moved some 100 yards from MEMA Headquarters as it crossed Whitfield Road, shearing trees and damaging homes and businesses.

In Brandon, cleanup is underway where the tornado ripped a path through the area. Trees fell onto houses on Circle Drive off Shiloh Road. The sound of heavy equipment and chainsaws filled the air as neighbors came together to help move debris.

On Airport Road in Pearl, there was more destruction. Southern Athletics Gym was leveled by more than 86 mile per hour winds. The building and its contents are a heap of twisted metal. MEMA officials said damage has been reported in 16 counties.

Claudia Aycock's lives on Circle Drive in Brandon and said she heard the roar going overhead around 6:50 p.m. Monday. The 38 year resident said the house shook. She is left with roof damage.

Her roof was also damaged by last years hail storm.

"I actually didn't see it until it was all over," said Aycock. "I was in the hallway with my animals and a neighbor called and said have you looked out the window and this is what we found. We have about four large trees down."

National Guard troops were brought in to assist with search and rescue in the hardest hit areas. They are joining the State Troopers and the Department of Public Safety in securing damaged homes and protecting property from looters.

DPS Deputy Commissioner Ken Magee said sightseers are flocking to the devastated areas and causing major traffic problems in many areas where there is still no power.

"Please stay out of these affected areas, said Magee. "Resist the urge to see the damage. It's hampering efforts to start cleaning debris etc. So please stay away."

Governor Phil Bryant toured the Tupelo and Winston County damage Tuesday. He is in the process of applying for a Presidential Emergency Declaration.

FEMA coordinator Mark Landry is in the state, along with other members of the national agency, aiding with the recovery effort.

Check out MEMA's latest storm damage figures here: MEMA Storm Damage Report 04/29

Copyright 2014 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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