Tornado hits Mississippi town of Hattiesburg
BY HOLBROOK MOHR & JANET MCCONNAUGHEY Associated Press
Monday, February 11, 2013
2/11/13 at 6:09 AM
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - A tornado tore through Hattiesburg on Sunday as part of a wave of severe storms that downed trees, damaged buildings and injured more than a dozen people.
The twister traveled down one of Hattiesburg's main streets and mangled homes, commercial buildings and structures on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. Emergency officials said at least 10 people were injured in surrounding Forrest County and three were hurt to the west in Marion County, but they weren't aware of any deaths.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said it appears that a single tornado caused the damage in those two counties and Lamar County. Hundreds of homes are damaged in Forrest County, along with a couple dozen in the other two.
Flynn said the sheer scope of the damage was slowing the assessment of damage.
"The problem is, it was so strong that there's so much debris that there's a lot of areas they haven't been able to get to yet," he said.
On the campus of the university, trees were snapped in half around the heavily damaged Alumni House where part of the roof was ripped away. Windows in a nearby building were blown out, and heavy equipment worked to clear streets nearby in a heavy rain after the worst of the weather had passed.
The university released a statement saying no one was hurt but that it was under a state of emergency, anyone away from campus should stay away until further notice.
East of campus, 47-year-old Cindy Bullock was at home with her husband and dog, a terrier mix named Vinnie, when she heard the tornado coming. They ran to a hallway and covered their heads. It wasn't long before the windows in the kitchen and bedroom exploded. The storm stripped all the shingles off the roof and left holes in it, while knocking over a large pine tree in the yard.
After dark, the Bullocks were trying to arrange their stuff inside so it wouldn't get wet from the dripping water.
"I just looked out the window and I heard the rumbling. It sounded like a train. We ran to the hall, and the kitchen windows and the windows in the bedroom exploded. It happened pretty fast," she said.
There were large trees blocking the road all through her neighborhood, and several of the houses were hit by falling trees.
Forrest County Sheriff Billy McGee says 10 or 15 people were injured by the tornado that slammed Hattiesburg and other parts of the county - but none of the injuries was serious.
To the west, Marion County emergency director Aaron Greer says three injuries have been reported in the community of Pickwick, about seven miles south of Columbia.
A tornado is seen moving through Hattiesburg, Miss., on Sunday. Emergency officials said an apparent tornado caused significant damage in the town, including the University of Southern Mississippi campus. JORDAN HOLLIMAN / Associated Press
The American Red Cross center in Hattiesburg, Miss., is destroyed after an apparent tornado that moved through the area Sunday. BRYANT HAWKINS / The Hattiesburg American / Associated Press