15 hurt as storms, tornadoes rip through Miss., La. Tornado watches were posted across southern Louisiana, much of Mississippi and Alabama and into Tennessee
By Holbrook Mohr
The Associated Press
YAZOO CITY, Miss. — Storms ripped through central Mississippi, bringing further misery to an area already decimated by a line of tornadoes that killed 12 people in April. Tornado watches were posted across southern Louisiana, much of Mississippi and Alabama and into Tennessee as the storms moved east Tuesday.
Authorities in Mississippi reported 15 people hurt and homes and businesses badly damaged, but no deaths.
On Battle Street in Yazoo City, a possible twister late Monday ripped the tarp off 63-year-old Clarence Taylor's roof, which had been damaged by the April tornado.
"It looks like a war zone now," he said Tuesday morning, pulling a slow drag off a cigarette, then looking around at the power lines dangling from broken poles and pieces of tin scattered about from nearby buildings.
Taylor said the tornado sounded like a bomb and he bolted down the street to check on his 93-year-old mother a few doors away. The wind blew him down, but he made it to her house and found her unhurt.
"I'm blessed, man. I'm blessed," Taylor said.
Buildings were heavily damaged in downtown Yazoo City, where workers rushed to repair traffic signals near the courthouse square Tuesday morning.
A large tree on the courthouse lawn was uprooted, falling between the two story white building and a war memorial for local veterans. An American flag and the pole from which it hung was twisted among the broken branches.
A few shingles blew off the courthouse and some windows were blown out, but the building was otherwise unscathed.
"We're just in tornado alley," said John Richardson, a court bailiff and reserve officer with the Yazoo County Sheriff's Department. More than 200 homes in Yazoo City were damaged or destroyed in the April tornado. "We come out good on this one compared to the last one."
Business owners on historic Main Street tried to salvage merchandise from rain water that pushed through broken windows and damaged roofs.
Water was still dripping from the ceiling at Grace Hardware, housed in a building built in 1904, as friends of owner Susan Cartwright Guion helped load merchandise onto a truck. Despite being called a hardware store, the owners make custom furniture and sell antiques and art. Guion said the building was featured in the film "Oh Brother Where Thou Art."
"It's been here a long, long time, but now it has no roof and we have no insurance," she said.
In central Louisiana, a tornado destroyed a brick house and damaged three other homes near the town of Atlanta as a front with thunderstorms moved across the region from Monday into Tuesday. No one was hurt, the Winn Parish sheriff's office said.
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway near New Orleans was closed for a time because of high winds. About 1,300 people in the city's central business district lost power, but it has since been restored.
Winds gusting to near hurricane-force in Alabama knocked down trees and prompted some schools to cancel or delay classes.
Alabama emergency management officials said a possible tornado toppled trees and power lines in Lamar County near the Mississippi line Tuesday morning, and winds estimated at near 70 mph blew a vehicle off Corridor X near Cordova in Walker County.
In Starkville, Miss., home to Mississippi State University, seven people were hurt when storms, including a possible tornado, tore through the area. Oktibbeha County Coroner Michael Hunt said all were admitted to a hospital but later released.
Much of the damage occurred on the south side of Starkville. Dozens of homes were damaged in the Pines mobile home park, said Sgt. Tom Roberson of the Starkville Police Department.
Several units were overturned, trash cans, branches, porches and other debris lined the streets and lots, and residents wandered early Tuesday as officers patrolled the area. Police only allowed residents back in to gather clothes and other belongings.
In Monroe County, Sheriff Andy Hood said authorities believe a tornado touched down north of Aberdeen about 11:30 p.m. Monday.
Hood said eight people were taken to the emergency room and one was transferred to a Memphis hospital. Other injuries were non-life threatening, he said.
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Associated Press Writer Jack Elliott in Jackson contributed to this report.