Pine Belt cleans up after terrifying storms

Dozens of Sumrall residents are recovering from a tornado that cut a four-mile path of destruction, wiping out homes, downing trees, and sending anything in its way flying.

The tornado touched down around 2:45 Wednesday morning in Sumrall between Foster and Old Salt roads.

Emergency management officials report about 10 homes are destroyed and another 10 to 15 severly damaged.

Six injuries are reported in Sumrall.

The storm demolished houses, knocked others off their foundations, tore a mobile home apart and sent it into a nearby pond, and hurled a Dodge Caravan across a field where it struck a farm tractor.

Lamar supervisors have declared a state of emergency in the county during the cleanup.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at the Sumrall voting precinct to help storm victims.

In Jones County, more than two dozen homes were damaged or destroyed overnight, and many residents say they're just glad to be alive.

Survivor Ann Butler fights back tears after she and her grandson nearly escaped death in the Glade area, southeast of Laurel.

"I ran out here to the trailer and got my grandson because he stayed over there, he didn't think it was going to get bad," she says. "As we were coming in everything started falling."

He was living in a FEMA trailer less than 20 feet away for her front door.  And she says those were the longest steps of her life.

"I went to beating on the door and I said Allen come on it's a tornado and he jerked the door open and I grabbed him by the arm. You could hear the roaring, the trees were falling, debris was hitting us as we was coming across the yard."

The severe weather did a number on the Greene County community of Sand Hill, outside Richton. Several homes and other structures were damaged or destroyed, and power was out in certain areas. Officials believe it was the work of a tornado. The damage stretches along an area about a half mile wide and six miles long.

I heard the tornado when it went through," says Fire Chief Ickey Byrd. "It hit about a quarter of a mile from where I live and I got a call saying a fellow firefighters home was damaged, so I got on my gear and went to see if I could help and found out we had huge damage."

Officials estimate 13 homes were damaged. Many residents can't stay in their homes, so they are seeking shelter at the Sandhill Community Center.