Homes, church destroyed in area

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2005

Officials were still working today to assess damage from aWednesday storm system that ripped through the state, destroying atleast 15 homes and a church in southwest Mississippi.

Three people were reported with minor injuries, two in PikeCounty and one in Lincoln County.

“We’re still in the process of cleaning up,” said Pike CountyCivil Defense Director Richard Coghlan. “We have a 10-mile wideswath of damage through central Pike County.”

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Pike County sustained the most damage in the region, withverified reports of seven homes, four mobile homes, the Rose Hill 2Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 48 and five outbuildingsdestroyed.

“We have quite a few others with major damage,” he said. “We’restill assessing damage. I’m sure we’ll find more with minor damageand probably a few with major damage.”

Coghlan said two people received minor injuries during thestorm. One was treated and released from Southwest MississippiRegional Medical Center on Wednesday.

The second, a 66-year-old man who was blown from his mobile homeinto his yard was kept overnight for observation at SMRMC andreleased this morning, he said.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey saidofficials here also were still assessing damages. Current figure,he said, show four mobile homes were destroyed, while five homesand Brookhaven Animal Hospital on Highway 51 North sustained majordamage.

The mobile home of Alean Smith, 52, at 1659 Old Highway 51 wasdestroyed when a tree fell across it, nearly splitting thestructure in half.

Alean Smith’s son, LeKendrick Smith, 21, was at home when thetree fell, said his sister Victoria Henderson.

“He’s shook up, but not hurt,” Henderson said.

According to neighbor Laura Shephard, “It sounded like you threwa bomb down” when the tree fell.

She immediately went to her neighbor’s house and said LeKendrick”was a lucky man.” He had been sitting in the living room, wherethe tree fell, but decided he wanted his cell phone from thebedroom. He was in the bedroom when the center of the homecollapsed, Shephard said.

Minor damage at at least six homes and three mobile homes hadbeen verified, Galey said.

Southern Electric, on Highway 51 North, was also damaged, galeysaid, but he has not been able to visit the business to see theextent of the damage.

“It has a tree on it, but that’s all I know right now,” he saidthis morning.

A home on Wellman Road damaged in the storm caught fire, Galeysaid, citing a probable lightning strike.

There was one minor injury attributed the storm in LincolnCounty, Galey said. He could not provide details but said theinjured person was treated and released Wednesday from King’sDaughters Medical Center.

Damage in Lincoln County was scattered, Galey said. Heencouraged motorists to continue using caution while driving oncounty roads today.

“We’ll have several county roads with damage, and several southof the city I’m sure will be flooded with all the rain,” hesaid.

Robert Patterson, director of the Lawrence County Civil Defense,said the Silver Creek area appeared to absorb the brunt of thestorm. Four homes and four chicken areas were damaged in thatarea.

“We’re calling it a tornado, but it could have been highstraight-line winds,” Patterson said. “We had a half-mile of treesdown on Highway 43,” he said.

High winds, heavy rain and hail were reported throughout thecounty, Patterson said, but a report of baseball-sized hail in Armturned out to be exaggerated.

“Someone got excited,” he said. “It wasn’t baseball sized. Itwas probably golf ball sized.”

Others in the area were more fortunate.

Randle Drane, chief of the Wesson Volunteer Fire Department,said damage there was light.

“We had a couple of small trees and limbs down but nothingmajor,” he said.

Tina Norman, a deputy coordinator for Copiah County CivilDefense, said Drane’s report was a reflection of the county, withhail reported in a large area and a few trees down but no majordamage.

Mark Thornton, director of Franklin County Civil Defense, saidhis county also escaped the wrath of the storm.

“We did real well,” he said, citing only a little hail in thesoutheastern part of the county, near Smithdale, with heavy rainand high winds throughout the county.