Mississippi: Hattiesburg Tornado Leaves 4 Dead, 10,000 People Left Without Power

A Mississippi tornado has claimed the lives of four people, left several people injured and left a trail of destruction in its path in Southern Mississippi. According to USA Today, the tornado that descended on the city of Hattiesburg in the early hours of January 21, ripped the roofs off several homes, tossed trees onto roadways and leveled several structures.

Since the tornado occurred at night, the true extent of the destruction caused by it only became clear by daybreak. Several images and videos of the aftermath of the tornado showed cars were flipped and piled on top of eachother. Images of the aftermath of the tornado were shared on Twitter and Facebook as well. Other regions affected by the tornado included nearby Lamar and Perry counties, and the city of Petal.

The official Twitter account of Hattiesburg city confirmed the four deaths.

According to Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict, two of the deaths happened in a trailer park, although they did not provide further information regarding the cause of death. Benedict confirmed that the tornado hit the area just before 4 a.m. The details of the other two confirmed deaths are yet to be released. At the time of this report being filed, firefighters were conducting door-to-door checks to search for victims and to ensure everyone’s safety.

While rescue efforts are still underway in some places, other areas have already started the process of rebuilding. The process, however, isn’t going to be easy confirmed Lee Smithson, Executive Director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

“The total debris clean-up will be weeks at this point,” he said.

At the Hattiesburg Salvation Army, Captain Patrick Connelly began assessing the damage.

“Before first light, I could tell there were windows blown out and standing water in the buildings.”

Connelly said the destructive winds peeled back the roofs on nearly every building of the campus of William Carey University, which includes a homeless shelter, church sanctuary, administrative offices, and a Boys and Girls Club for after-school programs.The University Campus will remain closed until further notice.

“This won’t stop us. In fact, we will have feeding trucks on our campus feeding lunch to those in the area who are in need.”

Here are some images of the damage caused to the University campus.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Hattiesburg City, Johnny DuPree told WDAM-TV that several city buildings were damaged by the tornado. This included a mass transit building that “is probably destroyed.”

Even a fire station was not spared. He added that electricity crews were working hard to restore power to major parts of the city while adding that there were gas leaks in several areas across the city. While initial reports put the number of people without electricity or power at 12,000, the figure was later changed to around 10,000 people. Mayor Johnny DuPree also signed an emergency declaration for the city.

According to The National Weather Service, the storm caused nearly five inches of rain and raised the risk of flooding. Flash floods were also reported from some areas. Current forecasts say the region could see more rainfall in the next 24 hours. Tornadoes were also seen in Pike, Lee and Chambers counties in neighboring Alabama. However, there were no reports of damage from there. Needless to say, a tornado watch is in effect throughout the region.

[Featured Image By Brennan Linsley/ AP Images]