In the hours since a deadly EF-3 tornado ravaged parts of Hattiesburg and Petal this weekend, killing four people, emergency management officials and first responders have been working around the clock to help those affected.
MEMA reports it has delivered 2,000 tarps to affected areas and the Mississippi Department of Health has a crisis team on site.
In addition, a total of 40 officers and state troopers will provide security to William Carey University and provide traffic control there. MEMA's executive director says they're almost through with damage assessments for Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties.
He says they still have to look at public utilities -- specifically the power grid -- because of major transmission lines affected by the storm.
"As bad as it was with a confirmed EF-3 tornado, it did not stay on the ground from the time it touched down to the time it went back up, said MEMA Executive Director Lee Smithson. "It did a lot of skipping. So there were a couple of instances where, especially right at William Carey College, it skipped over an apartment complex. Had it hit that, we could have seen a larger death toll and certainly more damage."
Sunday the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said preliminary damage reports show 480 homes were damaged in four counties from severe weather. There were also four confirmed deaths and more than 50 injuries.
Gov. Phil Bryant declared a State of Emergency and signed an executive order to authorize use of the National Guard on January 21.
Damage assessments are ongoing by county and city officials.
The National Weather Service in Jackson confirmed an EF-3 tornado struck portions of Lamar, Forrest, and Perry counties on Saturday.
There are an estimated 7,600 residents without power statewide, according to Mississippi Power and the Electric Power Association. The following utility companies are reporting:
Entergy – Reporting 752 outages
Dixie Electric Power Association – Reporting 1,465 outages
Pearl River Electric Power Association – Reporting 2,676 outages
The State Emergency Operations Center remains activated with MEMA and key state agencies coordinating resources to the affected areas.
MS Department of Human Services & American Red Cross:
MS Department of Public Safety:
MS Department of Health:
MS Department of Education:
MS Emergency Management Agency:
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