Pine Belt Strong: Two Years Later, remembering the 2017 tornado

Two years ago, an EF3 tornado tore through the Pine Belt leaving behind a path of obliteration. WDAM takes a look back at Jan. 21, 2017.

Pine Belt Strong: Two Years Later, remembering the 2017 tornado

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Many thought it was disaster leading to a dead end. Devastation strikes the Pine Belt. During the overnight hours, a deadly tornado made a path from Lamar County ripping through neighborhoods, turning facades into pieces continuing into Forrest County, finally ending its catastrophe in Perry County.

As dawn broke that morning, victims of mother nature’s track were now able to clearly see their surroundings in shambles. In 38 minutes, homes were destroyed, building collapsed and lives were taken. Four people lost their life that day. William Carey University was hit hard. Students living in dorms were ripped from their rooms as alarms sounded and streets were littered with downed power lines and trees.

The damage was extensive.

“Honestly, the way the lights were flickering and the sound, I thought I was going to die," Mikeala Green said.

More than one thousand homes and business across the Pine Belt damaged or destroyed that day. As WDAM cameras captured the obliteration in local communities, cities and towns residents stuck together with the courage and faith to rebuild and recover, Pine Belt Strong.

Days following the devastation, WDAM partnered up with local communities and the Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation raising more than 300 thousand dollars for tornado victims. It happened during a special one-day fundraiser called “Pine Belt Strong.”

Our WDAM family continues to extend our gratitude and appreciation to the generous donors who helped our communities recover.

Here’s a look back at WDAM 7′s coverage of the storm and the stories of recovery we told after it passed:

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