MEMA: EF-3 tornado destroys nearly two hundred homes - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

MEMA: EF-3 tornado destroys nearly two hundred homes

Damage in Hattiesburg after weekend tornado (Source: WLBT) Damage in Hattiesburg after weekend tornado (Source: WLBT)
Crews work to repair lines and restore power in Forrest County (Source: WLBT) Crews work to repair lines and restore power in Forrest County (Source: WLBT)
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

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.

  • Forrest County – 4 deaths; 56 injuries: 428 homes damaged; assessments are still ongoing throughout the county.  Multiple roads are still closed due to debris.
  • Lamar County – 30 homes damaged; multiple roads closed due to debris and flooding.
  • Lauderdale County – One injury; 12 homes damaged.
  • Perry County – One injury; 10 homes damaged; one road closed due to debris and flooding.
  • Pike County– Two homes damaged; one road closed.
  • Wilkinson County – Three homes damaged.

 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:

  • Forrest County 361 Saferoom/Shelter - 55 occupants reported; MS Department of Health has a crisis team on site to assist with any potential needs.
  • Petal Civic Center – 11 occupants reported
  • The University of Southern Mississippi - Housing 30 international students that attend William Carey University.

Salvation Army:

  • Two Canteen/Feeding Units have been deployed to assist in the Hattiesburg area; they are set up at the Forrest and Lamar County 361 Saferoom/Shelters, respectively.
  • A Roving Canteen/Feeding Unit has been deployed to serve affected neighborhoods in the Hattiesburg area.

MS Department of Public Safety:

  • MS Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks has assigned 10 Special Response Team (SRT) officers to Hattiesburg Police Department to provide security for William Carey University.
  • 10 SRT officers provided security for the city of Petal business area as well as neighborhoods damaged in the storm.
  • Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agent provided security for the Downtown area to deter looting as well as assist in security of William Carey University.
  • Mississippi Highway Patrol had 30 Troopers that provided traffic control in the city of Hattiesburg and the city of Petal.
  • Mississippi Bureau of Investigation assisted the Hattiesburg Police Department and Petal Police Department in security and patrol of business to deter looting.

MS Department of Health:

  • All water systems are functioning. Two systems have been affected and have boil water notices. The following systems are operating by generator at the time:
  • Forrest County – Barrontown Utility: Restoration Complete, except for 3 customers and they are working to restore service now.
  • Perry County - Runnelstown Utility - Full Restoration
  • MS Rural Water Association has not identified any damaged systems; they have staff in route to the sites to provide assistance in getting the water systems back on line.

MS Department of Education:

  • Three Schools are without electrical power in the Petal School District.  School District Superintendent, Dr. Matt Dillon, says classes will be canceled Monday, January 23rd.
  • Petal Upper Elementary
  • Petal Primary School

MS Emergency Management Agency:

  • Six Generators provided to Forrest County for Water and Severe Systems.
  • 2,000 tarps delivered to affects areas.
  • 1,500 bottles of water delivered to the affected areas.
  • Six Disaster Reservists deployed
  • Five Reservists assisting with Forrest County Emergency Operations Center
  • One Reservist assisting the State Emergency Operations Center

Copyright 2017 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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