COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - Four people are dead and many more injured after a devastating tornado struck Columbia, MS, on Tuesday at about 2 p.m.. Many businesses and homes took widespread, heavy damage.
Marion County Coroner Norma Williamson reported two fatalities in Marion County and several injuries. In Jones County, Sheriff Alex Hodge reported two more died on Mullican Road when the twister destroyed the mobile home they were in.
Williamson also said the Marion County hospital has been overwhelmed with patients, every room is full, and the staff is working off a generator. They have set up a triage to take care of additional injured.
As darkness has fallen, Williamson said it has become harder to get to people who need help. Columbia has issued a curfew for the city starting at 6 p.m until 6 a.m.
Also damaged were a Walgreens in Columbia, there were flipped cars along Hwy. 98, and major damage to Mack Grubbs Ford and GM.
Power is out in Purvis and Oak Grove. Dixie Electric has confirmed at least 6,000 members have lost electric service due to the storms. Most of the outages are in the western portion of Jones County. Mississippi Power also confirmed around 2,600 customers losing power in Lamar and Jones County.
There are reports of significant damage to a Walmart in Columbia on Hwy. 98, and callers to the station said cars in the parking lot were also damaged.
Also taking hits were the TLC Daycare, TL Wallace store, a doughnut shop and a bank in Columbia, and Columbia Computers was reported to be "completely collapsed."
Damage out of Sumrall include downed trees and power lines, roofs being damaged, and kids being evacuated from a daycare to the Citzen's Bank.
The Marion County Hospital suffered some damage, and is currently overwhelmed with people seeking help. They have treated 50 patients, eight were transported to Forrest General for severe injuries.
Hwy 98 in Columbia have been closed to motorists. according to Kurt Branigan with the Pearl River Valley electric association.
Hwy. 98 Eastbound in Columbia is open to motorists who must travel, according to Mississippi Highway Patrolman Brent Barfield.
Authorities are urging people not to travel this area. Live power lines are down, and Branigan urged that residents avoid sight-seeing on the roads.
Branigan also said he does not know when power will be restored to tornado damaged areas.
LOCAL DAMAGE REPORTS:
Trees down near Carmichael community.
Fallen trees have damaged mobile homes in the Calhoun community, and a tree was driven through a mobile home on Crepe Myrtle Drive.
Hines Road is blocked because of major structural damage. Trees are down on Hwy. 28 and Garner Road, and people are trapped in a home on Garner Road.