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Damage, no injuries in county tornado

Damage in Lincoln County was widespread Thursday as a tornadoripped through the county on a path from west to east damaginghomes and uprooting trees.

There were no injuries, according to Cliff Galey, director ofthe Lincoln County Civil Defense, but a number of homes, vehiclesand other structures were damaged.

“All in all, we had some pretty severe damage, but it waswidespread and no one was hurt,” he said. “That’s the mainthing.”

The tornado touched down near Hurricane Lake and moved towardInterstate 55 and Highway 51 before rising back into theclouds.

While in the clouds, the tornado continued to do damage as itpassed over the city, ripping shingles off a home on PenningtonStreet, toppling a scoreboard and damaging the band hall roof atBrookhaven High School and moving aircraft at Brookhaven MunicipalAirport.

“I’m not sure it ever came down again,” Galey said.

Boyce Bullock, airport manager, said he knows it did.

“It came right down the middle of the runway,” Bullock said.

Although the damage is widespread, Galey said, the county wasfortunate because only one trailer on Denton Trail and a houseunder construction in the Zetus community were destroyed.

“As best as I can tell, we’ve got about five or six (houses)with minor damage and a couple with major damage,” he said. “We hada number of sheds, carports and other smaller structures blownaway, but I don’t have a handle on that.”

Paul Baham, claims director for Farm Bureau Insurance, said hisclaims adjustors were out Friday morning assessing the damage. Theyhad “about 20 houses out there that had some damage. We’re tryingto get those folks straightened up before Christmas.”

He estimated the value of the claims at around $100,000.

Galey said power was restored quickly and at 5 p.m. Thursdayonly about 200 houses were without power. Entergy expected to havethem restored during the night, he said.

The tornado remained in the clouds as it passed over the city,although witnesses saw tendrils of a funnel try to form.

Brookhaven High School suffered some minor damage, according toAssistant Superintendent James Tillman. The football fieldscoreboard was ripped out of the ground and the roof of the bandhall was damaged and leaking a little, he said. There was no majordamage at the school.

“We’re blessed that’s all we had,” he said. “Fortunately, itcame at a good time. There were no students outside betweenclasses. They were all in the classroom, and we took them into thehall.”

At the airport, Bullock said some antennae and lights were blowndown in addition to planes being moved by the wind. Repairs weremade by Friday morning.

“We’re back in business,” he said. “We’re going to have someonecome down and check (the planes),” he said, “but I don’t thinkthere’s any damage.”

Galey said he appreciated the efforts of volunteers Thursday,many of whom remained out until nightfall removing trees and limbs.He was especially pleased to see the public add their support tothe volunteers of the fire departments and civil defense.

Although he doubts there was enough damage to receive state orfederal aid, Galey said he requested it anyway.

“We filed a local proclamation of emergency with the state, butthat was just to (qualify the county) for any disaster assistancefrom the state,” he said.

Reports circulating Thursday immediately after the storm of someheavy damage in Lawrence County were largely untrue, according toRoyce Renfroe, assistant director of the Lawrence County CivilDefense.

“Really and truly, we didn’t have much,” he said. “We had a lotof straight-line winds, but we escaped the main storm andtornadoes, thank goodness.”

A tree fell on a house on Sylvester May Lane in Oma, he said,but there was no major damage. There were some trees down innorthern Lawrence County, but they were mainly limited to smallcountry roads and did not impede traffic significantly.