HATTIESBURG, Miss. — People began trying to salvage what they could Monday as rain continued to fall from the same storm system that spawned a tornado on Sunday in the Pine Belt area of Mississippi.
Some people walked around fallen trees, power lines, smashed cars and other debris to carry belongings away.
The rain was supposed to continue through the day, and more severe weather was expected today. National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Bryant in Jackson said tornadoes aren’t expected, but heavy rain is likely to continue.
“I can’t believe no one got killed,” said Clayton Butler, a resident of Sumrall, Miss., who works at Diamond Electric Corp. He was out assessing damage to traffic signals on Monday morning.
“Look at how it blew the windows in over there,” he said, motioning to a building.
Mississippi Power reported that as of 10 a.m., about 4,000 customers were still without power. Damage from the tornado included nearly 100 broken power poles. At the peak, 13,000 customers were without power.
A crushed silver truck was in the median Monday morning. Workers in the area said it flipped several times, with the driver inside, before it came to rest.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol sent 20 members of its special operations group to help keep the streets blocked.
Bo Meaders of Southern Courtyard Apartments, said his bathroom ceiling caved in from water damages from an upstairs apartment. He wasn’t home when the tornado hit.
“I’d rather go through a Category 5 hurricane than a tornado,” he said.
Catlin Holmes brought his family to salvage some belongings at their apartment building.
“All we could get out was some clothes,” he said, pointing to their baby’s destroyed bedroom.
A Hattiesburg police officer came along and told them they couldn’t go back inside the apartment for their own safety. He gave them a phone number for the American Red Cross, whose headquarters also was damaged.
Joe Baggett of Hattiesburg was out taking photos of the damage in the same area.
“I’m 52 years old and that’s the first time I’ve ever been under a bed,” he said. “I’ve seen nothing like it.”
The American Red Cross is setting up shelters and expects about 50 families to be housed.
The Salvation Army is sending feeding units and plans to serve lunch and dinner for several days.
The University of Southern Mississippi had damage to six buildings on campus. The school is closed for the Mardi Gras holiday. Students are advised that if they are not on campus, they should not return until directed to do so.
Ryan Raziano of Perkinston, Miss., was practicing his saxophone at the Jazz Center an hour before the tornado hit, blowing out two walls.
“I made a conscious decision to go into the Performing Arts Center, and I’m glad I did,” said Raziano, a graduate student.
The Performing Arts Center also was damaged.