Clarion-Ledger from Jackson, Mississippi on February 27, 2001 · Page 7
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Clarion-Ledger from Jackson, Mississippi · Page 7

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Jackson, Mississippi
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Tuesday, February 27, 2001
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Page 7
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' TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2001 THE CLARION-LEDGER B 7 A Tornadoes Sum Mississippi Families, businesses sort through rubble By Clay Harden Clarkn-Ldgr Staff Writer GREENWOOD "Be merciful unto me, 0 God, be merciful: For my soul trusteth in thee ... " Wayne Lessley read Psalms 57 to family members less than nine minutes before a forecast tornado hit his home in Johnson subdivision on Saturday night. "I told (my family) it was in God's hands," Lessley said Monday. After he went outside and saw the twister coming, Lessley ran into the hallway and covered his wife, daughter, two nephews and a cousin with his body. The tornado struck at 8:35 p.m. "The door to the hallway fell on my back, and I looked up to see the roof lift off the house," Lessley said. "Then it sat the roof back down." Then Lessley, relieved his family survived without injury, ran door to door to see about his neighbors. He found homes destroyed but people unharmed. , ih.uh. i)..t ni"';w."wMJmi a.. j, v . r 43r:.v ' : . u ' .vct - " f: i1" n)l ' - ' L"1' Donna Kaufman is thrilled with the gift of food and water on Monday as she helps clean up the site of her in-law's home on 1 0th Street in Pontotoc. "You don't think about how hungry you are till someone brings you food," she said. The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and several churches in the area are assisting storm victims. Amid 24 miles of devastation, five died Saturday night. These were five people who touched many, say their survivors. Betty Clowers Betty Clowers, 65, was a retired nurse who had worked at Pontotoc Pri mary Care, R. Belinda Young - said. Her son, b. Clowers Donnie Clowers, worked at the doctor's office, Young said. While sifting through the fami- Such scenes were relived in Greenwood and in the Tallahatchie County town of Webb on Monday as residents salvaged belongings from the rubble and county workers, prison inmates and utility employees began the cleanup. A tornado destroyed 12 nouses and two businesses and damaged 23 other houses in Greenwood, while straight-line winds destroyed 10 houses and damaged 10 others in Webb on Saturday night, officials said. Lessley, an electrician, gave immediate help to his neighbors. "I carried my wrenches with me to cut off their gas because I was afraid there would be an explosion, especially with lightning," Lessley said. R.B. and Loyce Overby, who live across Julia Street from Lessley, were safe by two seconds. "We made it to the bathtub about two seconds before it hit," said R.B. Overby, a retired electrician. "It took all the roof and both ends of the house, but not the bath- ' 'u . .. , - .? - - XJT"- l ; . ' ' t' i 100 mum iu-yi'H.'. '"""" ''""wpi'M ly's ruined home Tuesday, Young found a book that belonged to Betty. "The title was something like Give of Yourself," Young said. "Betty believed it was always more blessed to give than receive. They were giving people," Young said. Donnie Clowers Donnie Clowers, 40, loved NASCAR racing, professional wrestling and country music, Young said. "He was really a big Jeff Gordon D. Clowers :' 1 11. Sfcifl 5W. - .. I W..l 1 I" I.?-.' ' S . ' -.t.l (, ."-.,- '.l. .-'I ' Iff 3 . Ji " i ,.- I II Clay HardenThe Clarion-Ledger Melvin Eggleston, a Tallahatchie County worker, examines belongings in the ruins of Irene Toy's house trailer that was blown off its pad into Blanchie Johnson's house in Webb. room. Forty miles to the north, Webb resident Blanchie Johnson marveled that her neighbor, Irene Toy, survived with two cuts to her leg when straight-line winds exploded her mobile home in the Oil Mill The Storm in Pictures . .hi. f. rnw fan," she said. One of the items unearthed Tuesday was a photo album of Donnie's memorabilia. "I think I might take that up to the funeral home, for the memorial table," Young said. Peggy Hester Peggy Hester, 72, was a good neighbor and friend of the family's, Gayle Mills said. "Miss Peggy," as she was affectionately called by relatives, was also deathly afraid of storms, and usually came to the neighbors' house to wait out bad weather. She died while waiting out the storm at the Clowers' home. , , w , , ,i , ,v iiii hi,. . .wn, i i ! . i urn nii AKnua" Afteir LnVinn MnnHou at I I Lll I . C '. " A i' '.V'l' what remains. John and Janice i o E"pXi I V. t - - .-. 5 v. VI t -V'i' ? i.V wi,Y'-V, ti'- . . t . " - I - ''III U Mil ' lill I Quarters subdivision. The floor of the mobile home crashed atop Johnson's house. "You look at that, God had to have a hand in it," said Johnson, a certified nurse's assistant. "I am glad no one was home and I was at 1 Evan Nixon Evan Nixon died on the eve of his 10th birthday. His family had just moved from Maine to Mississippi a month ago, to be near his stepfather's parents, who live in Corinth, in Alcorn County. A fourth-grader at D.T. Cox Elementary School in Pontotoc, Evan loved to play soccer, his stepfather said, adding: "He is my stepchild, but he is my only child." Michael Seale Michael Seale. 36. called his aunt, Belinda Young, "Aunt Bee," she said. "He was always feas work at Tallahatchie General Hospital." Cora Miller, Johnson's neighbor, was grateful her mobile home had been built over covered by an anchored wooden frame in 1987. "After seeing what (the weather) did to the other mobile homes here, I am glad we did it," she said. "We saw a warning on TV, hit the floor and it came and went in three seconds." Christy Powell, accounting manager for J.J. Ferguson Road Construction at 4510 U.S. 82 in Greenwood, was salvaging soggy records Monday. "This happened during our audit," she said, laughing at the irony in front of her damaged office. But Powell was not amused peo-ple stole merchandise from Bussey's Western Store, destroyed next door. "They were out here Sunday trying on jeans and boots," Powell said. "I couldn't believe anybody would act like that." i Above: After looking Monday at what remains, John and Janice Bramlett and their son Collin, 2, walk away from the double-wide mobile home they were to close on Friday for purchase. There was a delay in the closing so it was put off until Monday. A tornado struck Saturday destroying the structure. "We won't be buying a mobile home," said Janice Bramlett. Left: Rickey Cornelious, working for Bramlett Construction Co. of Blue Springs, patches some of the holes and missing shingles of the Joe Fennell home in Pontotoc. In the background is 10th Street, the area receiving the most damage and the site of five fatalities. Photos by J.D. Schwalm The Clarion-Ledger ing me, joking," she said. Seale lived across the street from his aunt, Betty Clowers. He loved hors-es. Seale's horse barn was the only building standing on the 1 family's proper- IV J - 1 tv. Mills said. At the head of Seale's coffin is Seale a floral wreath in the shape of a horseshoe. At the opposite end of the funeral home parlor is a table with two horse statues on top of it Katherine R, Dougan, Staff Writer Cp FACTS ABOUT Tornadoes , THE SEASON , , The peak tornado season in Mis sissippi is February to May with a second peak in November, although tornadoes can happen at any time of year. February is the third most active month in Missis sippi. This chart shows the number of tornadoes that have occurred since 1950, when records were first kept: 250 200 150 FM AM J JASOND TIME OF DAY Mississippi twisters can strike at any hour of the day, although most tornadoes occur from 2-6 p.m. National Weather Service data gathered from 1950-99 indicate the number of tornadoes each hour: t nctni iceTTriDUAnnce In the past 50 years, the average number of reported tornadoes in the state each year is 25, with 62 the highest number reported in a single year, and five the fewest. The average number of tornado-related deaths in Mississippi each year is eight. Here are some of the state's other deadly tornadoes, ranked by the number of deaths: May 7, 1840: Natchez, 317 dead. April 5, 1936: Tupelo, 216 dead. April 24, 1908: Statewide, 155 dead. April 20, 1920: East-central Mississippi, 130 dead. Feb. 21, 1971: Delta, 118 dead. April 24, 1908: Lamar and Wayne counties, 102 dead. B March 16, 1942: Central to northeast Mississippi, 65 dead. March 3, 1966: Jackson and central Mississippi, 57 dead April 22, 1883: Beauregard, 40 dead Dec. 5, 1953: Vicksburg, 38 dead. Nov. 21-22, 1992: Storms and tornadoes ravaged Mississippi, killing 15 people. Ten of the 15 fatalities were in Rankin County. Choctaw, Kemper and Leake counties had one fatality each. There were two fatalities in Webster County. April 21, 1984: Water Valley, 8 dead. Feb 28, 1987: Glade community (Jones County), 7 dead. March 9-10, 1992: Lauderdale, Sharkey, Washington and Yalobusha counties, 3 killed. Sources: National Weather Service and Clarion-Ledger research 213 188 ; J5 1" J t -O" ' T

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