Clarion-Ledger from Jackson, Mississippi on November 23, 1992 · Page 23
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Clarion-Ledger from Jackson, Mississippi · Page 23

Jackson, Mississippi
Issue Date:
Monday, November 23, 1992
Page 23
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Monday, November 23, 1992 The Clarion-Ledger 3D if toy Residents of Easthaven grieve following the 'nightmare.' , .: i J . v ;jwt '"; ' 'rUti m.rv;' i 31"U . tv ")lt4.' VtV,. d V Onk-Jj- ' - .." --.... j- . . Tom RosterThe Clarion-Ledger Mark Bush, 22, walks along the bank of a pond by Duncan's Mobile Home Park where his fiancee's home touched down after flying about 150 yards with them inside. Neighbors help save neighbors By James Overstreet Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer BRANDON Sam and Karen Valentine sprang into action minutes after a tornado ripped through a mobile home park, saving some lives and helplessly watching as others were lost. "My wife was so frustrated because she knew what to do, we just didn't have the equipment," said Sam Valentine, 46, who lives across the street from Duncan's Mobile Home Sales & Service. Valentine, director of the Children's Medical Program at the state Health Department, said he and his wife, Karen, a nurse there, did what they could to help the injured "It was pitch black, and all we could hear were people screaming, 'Help me, help me,' " he said. Officials said the tornado's path measured 30 miles, leveled about 26 of the 30 mobile homes in the area and resulted in four deaths there and six elsewhere in Rankin County. Donnie Ainsworth, 47, who lives nearby, said he arrived soon after the tornado hit. "It was just disastrous," Ainsworth said. "No ambulances or rescue teams were here or anything." Witnesses said emergency personnel struggled about 45 minutes to make it to the park. Roads leading to the park off Mississippi 468 were blocked by fallen trees and utility poles, Jackson Fire Chief Joe Donovan said. "(Emergency personnel) literally had to cut their way in," Donovan said While emergency crews struggled to get through, Ainsworth and other neighbors did what they could. Ainsworth said he found a small girl who had been decapitated and an older man who apparently was her grandfather. "It just kills me," he said. "She looked like a little doll. She never knew what hit her." Ainsworth also recalled seeing a small boy trapped under a mobile home overturned by the violent winds. "(Rescuers) had to amputate the kid's arm because they couldn't get him out," he said. Valentine said he realized immediately that the swirling winds weren't just a thunderstorm. "It sounded rrke bullets on the roof, and then a combination of a freight train and jumbo jet coming through," he said "I could feel the barometric pressure change on my face." When he and his wife got to the mobile home park, they found a toddler stuffed in a hole from which a utility pole had been blown. Valentine said the child, who was about 3, survived the storm. "It looked like somebody placed the baby over the hole and drove their fist through its stomach," he said. "We could tell she was thankful when we pullec,her from the h le, but she just couldn't tell us." Casey Miller, 3, held by father John, receives a blanket early Sunday from Bill Wilkinson of the Walters Volunteer Fire Depart- Tom RosterThe Clarion-Ledger ment. The Millers lived at Duncan's Mobile Homes Sales and Service park near Brandon. They took shelter in their bathroom. For residents of mobile home park, 1 minute's deadly terror seemed as if it would never end It was "boom, boom, boom," as his home flew 1 50 yards, a survivor said. By Butch John and Jamas Ovarstraat Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer BRANDON First, David Miller's dog went berserk, yapping and attempting to hide under the living room recliner. Then the lights went out. The heavy rain stopped and was replaced by a roar so loud he couldn't hear his father, Homer, in the next room. Suddenly, he was thrown on his side, then his back, then his side again as his trailer began rolling. "My part of it lasted too long, though the whole thing only took about a minute," Miller said. "I really thought, 'I'm going to die right now.' I grabbed the dog and hung on. We all made it." The Millers were among about 60 residents of Duncan's Mobile Home Sales and Service park caught in a late Saturday tornado that ravaged Rankin County. The storm demolished all but about four of 30 mobile homes on the site, killing four, Rankin County Coroner Jimmy Roberts said, and injuring several other residents. Jackie Nealy, 40, said he had seen simi-lar sights during Hurricane Andrew. A wtAjl-hauler, Nealy helped in the cleanijfc) of Louisiana's Gulf Coast after the Augc ,t hurricane. The truck he used in Louisiana was buried beneath his mobile home, in which he, three stepdaughters and a friend escaped serious injury Sunday. His home banged against a utility pole and held. Two people were killed in the mobile home next to his. "Even if the truck had made it, I wouldn't have wanted to be paid for the cleanup job here," he said "When tornadoes hit Flowood a few years ago, I worked free. I'd do it this time. . . . These people are my neighbors." Pearl Volunteer Fire Chief Lewis Her-rington said the disaster was the worst he had seen. Herrington's unit had the grisly task of locating and prying bodies from the wreckage. "Sometimes, you doubt that this job is worth it. It's very mind-boggling for a firefighter to see this kind of destruction. It just drags them down," Herrington said. "Sixty structural fires wouldn't add up to the damage, the destruction and the fatalities we've had here." Mark Bush and Janet Hooper said they and their two-bedroom house were tossed more than 150 yards. "It all happened boom, boom, boom lasted maybe a minute," Bush said. "I didn't even know we were airborne until I felt myself lying in the mud in the cold rain." "I really don't know how the hell v i' lived," Bush said as he rummaged through the remains of his house. "We were only 50 feet away from two women who were killed." Bush and Hooper, who suffered minor cuts and scrapes, said the scene was something out of a horror movie. "We couldn't see a single thing it was pitch black," Bush said. "All we could hear were people screaming for help." A few mobile homes away from Bush and Hooper, Sheila Rowell's mobile home was flipped on its roof. Rowell, her husband and two daughters scrambled to safety. "We landed right up against the window," Rowell, 30, said. "It was all we could do to hold onto each other." Rowell's daughter, Brittany, 2, escaped unharmed Her 13-year-old daughter, Lisa, was treated for cuts and bruises. "It was the most terrifying thing I've ever lived through," Rowell said. "I'll never ever live in a trailer again, I can tell you that" Although Rowell's family had insurance, insurance was the last thing on her mind "That's not what counts anyway," she said "We got what we wanted our lives." Atop his overturned home, Tim Rowell, 28, watched others picking at the remains of their homes. "A good man had hi hands Liw j on us lasi nigni,, ne saiu. By J. Lee Howard Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer BRANDON Nine-year-old Paul Younger said he spent most of early Sunday crying about the deaths of four of his neighbors, three of them his closest friends. "I screamed," said Paul, a Brandon Elementary School third-grader and son of Rankin County Attorney Mike Younger. "I got one hour of sleep, that's all." A tornado bashed Rankin County's affluent Easthaven subdivision shortly before midnight Saturday, killing four, snapping 100-year-old trees into kindling, leveling $200,000 homes and scattering debris for miles. Killed were Terry Smith, 107 Wellington Place; his son, Justin Smith, 7; Lee Warrington, 10; and Chaz Blackwell Warrington, 7. The Warringtons, half brothers, were at a Cub Scout slumber party hosted by the Smiths. The tornado touched down at the Smiths' two-story brick house, and hurled Smith and the three children almost a quarter mile to the north. L.Warrington Smith's wife, Ann, sur- C.Warrington vived. She was taken to Rankin Medical Center, where she was listed in good condition Sunday. Brandon Alderman Roe Grubbs said Terry Smith and the boys were killed as they scrambled clown the stairs toward the center of the home. Ann Smith was ahead of them and just reached the ground floor when the tornado hit, said Grubbs, who had heard an account of what had happened in the house. "What's sickening is, when we were looking through the house, we found a box," Grubbs said. "We opened it up. It was all full of Christmas toys." Linda Herrington, the Warrington brothers' aunt, said the boys' mother, Evelyn, called her about 1 a.m. Sunday. "She called me right after it hit. They wanted me to come up here," said Herrington, 47, of Pearl. "We've been out here all night. When they found Chaz, they said he was all torn up all bruised and cut. I guess you never know when something like this is going to happen. It's just such a nightmare. So much destruction." Donna Leach, 44, of 104 Wellington Place said she was asleep when the tornado struck. "You can't imagine how quickly this can happen," said Leach as she stood outside the shell of her home Sunday afternoon. The roof was shorn off, and many of her family's belongings lay strewn across the yard. "One minute, I was asleep, and the next minute, a brick wall fell right on me," Leach said. She, her husband, Richard, and their son, Tyler, 6, were not injured. "It's a miracle," Leach said. Pam Joyner, 34, of 106 Wellington Place lived next door to the Smiths. Joyner said she and her family moved into their home only six months ago. It looked like so many broken sticks Sunday. Joyner said she sensed something was about to happen in time to jump on top of her 4-year-old daughter seconds before the roof collapsed. Her 7-year-old daughter was blown out of the house and her husband was buried in rubble. But neither was seriously injured. "It only took five seconds," Joyner said. "It was here and gone. It didn't seem to last that long to cause this much damage." Neighbors rescue 1, but 4 in home perish By Marky Aden Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer BRANDON Brenda Nicholson remembers seeing her neighbor, Terry Smith, outside his house with his son, Justin, 7, Saturday morning. It turned out to be the last few hours of peace for their Easthaven subdivision. By 2 a.m. Sunday, father and son had been killed by a tornado, and Nicholson was at Rankin Medical Center, wiping tears from her eyes, waiting while Smith's wife, Ann, was treated. "I couldn't describe the storm," Nicholson said, sitting with members of her family and holding a gauze pad to her lacerated knee. "I just woke up and the house was vibrating. It was real hot, and I knew what it was because it sounded just like a freight train." Nicholson said she was sure it was a tornado and jumped out of bed. When she did, the windows of the bedroom of her ranch-style house on Wellington Place blew out. She ran and was half-blown to the kitchen. "And then I heard Ann screaming, 'Help! Help! Help!' " Nicholson said Nicholson and her husband, B.C., helped pull Smith from the wreckage of her two-story house next door. By then, it no longer looked like a house had been there at all. Others killed at the Smith home were Lee Warrington, 10, and Chaz Blackwell Warrington, 7. They'd been at the Smiths for a Cub Scout slum ber party.

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