State, local leaders discuss Pine Belt tornado recovery efforts

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) — State and local leaders held a news conference Thursday about the recovery and response efforts in the Pine Belt.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says more than 1,100 homes damaged in seven counties from Saturday’s storm.

There were also four deaths and more than 60 injuries.

Photo: WHLT
Photo: WHLT

Below is a breakdown of storm damage:

  • Forrest: Four deaths and 56 injuries. 411 homes destroyed/major damage, 588 minor.
  • Franklin: One home major damage and two bridges destroyed.
  • Jones: Two injuries, three homes damaged.
  • Lamar: 43 homes destroyed/major damage, 52 minor. Two roads major damage.
  • Lauderdale: One injury, 10 homes destroyed/major damage, nine homes minor.
  • Perry: One injury, 10 homes damaged.
  • Pike – Two homes minor damage.
  • Wilkinson – Three homes damaged.

The National Weather Service in Jackson said an EF-3 tornado struck portions of Lamar, Forrest, and Perry counties. There are an estimated 2,058 residents without power statewide, according to Mississippi Power and the Electric Power Associations.

The State Emergency Operations Center remains activated with MEMA and key state agencies coordinating resources to the affected areas.

MS Department of Human Services & American Red Cross:

  • Forrest County 361 Saferoom/Shelter – 54 occupants reported; MS Department of Health has a crisis team on site to assist with any potential needs.
  • Petal Civic Center – no occupants reported last night.
  • The University of Southern Mississippi – Housing 30 international students that attend William Carey University.

Salvation Army:

  • Two Canteen/Feeding Units have been deployed to assist in the Hattiesburg area; they are set up at the Forrest County Shelter.
  • A Roving Canteen/Feeding Unit has been deployed to serve affected neighborhoods in the Hattiesburg area.

MS Department of Public Safety:

  • MS Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks has assigned 10 Special Response Team (SRT) officers to Hattiesburg Police Department to provide security for William Carey University.
  • 10 SRT officers provided security for the city of Petal business area as well as neighborhoods damaged in the storm.
  • Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agent provided security for the Downtown area to deter looting as well as assist in security of William Carey University.
  • Mississippi Highway Patrol had 30 Troopers that provided traffic control in the city of Hattiesburg and the city of Petal.
  • Mississippi Bureau of Investigation assisted the Hattiesburg Police Department and Petal Police Department in security and patrol of business to deter looting.

MS Department of Health:

  • All water systems are functioning. Two systems have been affected and have boil water notices. The following systems are operating by generator at the time:
    • Forrest County – Barrontown Utility: Restoration Complete, except for 3 customers and they are working to restore service now.
    • Perry County – Runnelstown Utility – Full Restoration
  •  MS Rural Water Association has not identified any damaged systems; they have staff in route to the sites to provide assistance in getting the water systems back on line.

MS Department of Education:

  • Three Schools are without electrical power in the Petal School District. All schools in the district are closed today.
    • Petal Upper Elementary
    • Petal Primary School

MS Emergency Management Agency:

  • Six Generators provided to Forrest County for Water and Severe Systems.
  • 2,000 tarps delivered to affects areas.
  • 1,500 bottles of water delivered to the affected areas.
  • Three Disaster Reservists deployed
    • Assisting at Forrest County Emergency Operations Center.

Gov. Phil Bryant declared a State of Emergency and signed an executive order to authorize use of the National Guard. Damage assessments are ongoing by county and city officials.

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