Enterprise-Journal from McComb, Mississippi on November 23, 1992 · 1
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Enterprise-Journal from McComb, Mississippi · 1

McComb, Mississippi
Issue Date:
Monday, November 23, 1992
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La. dairy farmers, DEQ are allies in Tangipahoa River cleanup, see Page 3 .mtkeirrpfiscBcDiiiimaDll The one newspaper in the world most interested in this community 103rd Year No. 190 Monday, Nov. 23, 1 992 McComb, Miss. 35 Cents Tom BRANDON, Miss. (AP) - Federal and state assessment teams moved in today to put a dollar loss on a killer tornado and 100-mile storm system that left 15 dead and more than 200 injured in a swipe across Mississippi. "They probably won't look at all the damage they can, but will look at as much as they can in the worst affected areas," said Jim Maher, executive director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. "That's what will form the basis of our request to the president." When asked today about damage estimates, Maher would only say, "We are looking at millions of dollars worth of damage." Hardest hit was Rankin County, 15 miles from Jackson. Ten people died in the county that is a mix of small towns, suburbs and small trailer parks. Six people died in a trailer park. Nearly 100 were injured and many of them remained in area hospitals. "Everybody is accounted for inside the city," Brandon Mayor W.L. Whittington said today. Rankin County civil defense director Charlie Wilkinson said he believed residents in areas damaged outside Brandon had been accounted for. "The game plan today as far as we are concerned is the 1 p.m. meeting with damage assessment teams from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Those assessments begin today," Wilkinson said. The federal and state damage assistance teams began their tours this morning. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, D-Miss., formally asked President Bush today for a federal disaster declaration. Montgomery, whose congressional district includes Rankin County and other areas damaged by the storms, said he asked Bush to move quickly so federal aid could begin pouring into the areas. "I hope you can expedite this request so we can get help to these victims as soon as possible," Montgomery said in a telegram to Bush. The state's formal request is expected Tuesday. Wilkinson said Mississippi Power & Light Co. and Southern Pine Electric Power Association hoped to get electricity restored by tonight throughout the damaged areas, where the homes could resume service. "We will continue the debris cleanup," Wilkinson said. "The response Sunday from volunteers and local governments in and throughout this area was tremendous. We are very pleased with the progress made with the clearing of trees and debris." Whittington said most of his city was spared by the tornado, which he said skipped through the area rather than cutting a continuous path. "There's no telling what it would have done to if it would have stayed on the ground. It would have torn us to pieces. It really could have been worse," Whittington said. "It was absolute total devastation," said Gov. Kirk Fordice, who toured parts of Rankin County by helicopter and on foot. "This is probably one of the deadliest storms to hit the state in recent years." A tornado watch had been issued for the county, but some residents questioned why there was no warning meaning a tornado had been sighted or was indicated by radar. "It's standard operating procedure when something like that happens, and hopefully find out so it won't be repeated," said Jack Mason, a forecaster with the Jackson office of the National Weather Service. (See Tornado, back page) adoes GcnDD 15, ' ;i I. " iminyir (7 200 Associated Press photo Chad Watood helps gather a friend's belongings at a mobile home park near Brandon destroyed by a tornado. Many residents' belongings were blown Into a lake In the center of the park. Lincoln, Amite report twisters From staff reports Southwest Mississippi, spared of fatalities from Saturday night's violent thunderstorms, nevertheless is cleaning up after tornadoes touched down in Lincoln and Amite counties. Several homes were damaged or destroyed. In Lincoln County, a tornado destroyed at least six homes and damaged many others just off Interstate 55, Civil Defense director Buddy Ratliff said. In Amite County, a tornado demolished a house and two mobile homes in southwestern Amite County Saturday night, the sheriffs department said. The Lincoln County twister left a path of destruction along a two-mile path near the intersection of Highway 84 and 1-55 about two miles southwest of Brookhaven, Ratliff said. There were several minor injuries. No shelters had to be opened, and most of the people whose homes were damaged are staying with relatives and friends. Martha Laird, a resident in the New Prospect community, said the tornado hit around 11:15 p.m. in the area about a mile from her home. Carroll Bruce Dunn and his family is living with the Lairds because their home was destroyed. It was a terrible night. There was lots of lightning and the sky was a purplish color," Laird said. "It went over our home, but it damaged and destroyed a lot of our neighbors homes. "We had our radio on and it told us the tornado was coming our way. We got our stuff ready and got in the hallway, but it was traveling faster than what they told us," she said. "It did a great deal of damage. We were fortunate nobody got hurt," Laird said. "It's devastating. You would have to see it for yourself to believe all the damage." Lincoln County sheriffs deputies also reported two injuries, one mobile - home destroyed, and several houses and a lot of timber damaged. Information on the extent of the two injuries was not available. Officials said a mobile home on Denton Trail was destroyed along with the damage near Highway 84 west. Some roads were blocked by trees, but officials said this morning all roads are now clear. The Amite County twister struck around 9-9:30 p.m. in the old Camp Van Dorn area along Banks Lane. It wiped out the wood-frame home of Ida Bergeron, the mobile home of Annie Mae Dennis and a vacant mobile home owned by Louis Gaulden, said Amite County sheriffs deputy Harry Collins. No one was hurt, he said. "It blew stuff over 200 yards," Collins said. "Miss Ida was inside the house when hers blew away. Miss Annie Mae had left home and was at a neighbor's house. "It blew trees over two to three miles," Collins said. "Clothes and a deep freeze were like 200 yards away." The victims were staying with neighbors, Collins said. (See Local, back page) Victims include 3 Scouts BRANDON, Miss. (AP) -Three Cub Scout buddies were up late Saturday, enjoying a weekend sleep over. Six seconds later, all that remained of the suburban home was two cars parked neatly side-by-side in what had been a garage. A navy overnight bag packed with toys was in a ditch half a mile away, along with a penny loafer and a soggy pink Valentine's Day card. The rest of the home, including chandeliers, was spewed throughout the neighborhood. "It came in like 10 freight trains and totally wiped out everything in its path," Constable Martin Mann said of the tornado that injured more than 150 people and killed at least 15jjn-cluding the three Cub Scouts ancT one of their Fathers. Mann spent about seven hours searching for the bodies of 7-year-old Justin Smith and his visiting friends, brothers Jeremy Chaz Blackwell Warrington, 7, and Joseph Lee Warrington, 10. About 100 people searched nearby woods during the night for the young victims. Volunteers poked through brush strewn with dWii-j jt&-' x,, ivZAmJ 't'" ' i V","",t , v , 3 i: iff U I i mi jam I ' J f VIA? i Ik. l V- Nurse was first at ravaged trailer site Associated Press photo A Brandon firefighter uses a piece of lumber to probe a swimming pool for victims of Saturday's tornado. Four people, Including three boys, died In the house. stuffed animals, Nintendo games and clothes. Firemen probed the water in a neighbor's swimming pool. Neighbors, including many children, watched the search, hugging and crying. "I've got to go home and tell my 7 & -year-old and my fourth grader that their friends are dead," said Coleen Statum, with tears streaming down her face. "It's just horrifying. I can't believe something like this would happen," said Janet Bankston, an aunt of the Harrington boys. Bankston said Justin's mother, Cecilia Ann Smith, was calling for the children and her husband, Terry Smith, to come downstairs when the tornado hit. Mrs. Smith, who was standing on the (See Victims, back page) BRANDON, Miss. (AP) -Karen Valentine will always remember the cries of "help me, help me" coming from the midnight darkness of a tornado-ravaged trailer park. "I'm still in shock ... I keep flashing back to all of those people needing help," said Valentine, a registered nurse the past 20 years. The storm system touched down in some 18 Mississippi counties, but hardest hit was a trailer park about 300 yards from Valentine's home. "It was total devastation. We only had a small flashlight, but realized there were several victims on the ground," she recalled. Valentine, her husband Tom and their four children were among the first people to arrive at the Duncan Mobile Home Park, which was leveled by a tornado late Saturday night. Rescue workers, slowed by trees and debris on Highway 468, wouldn't arrive for nearly 90 more minutes. "Is this what it's like to be in a war?" one of Valentine's children &sked At least 20 of the 32 trailers in the park were destroyed and almost all the others were damaged heavily. Lewis Herrington, chief of the Pearl Volunteer Fire Department, said six people died at the rural Rankin County trailer park. At least a couple dozen more people were reported hurt. . Officials on Sunday confirmed 15 storm-related deaths state wide. At least 150 people were injured. Before Karen Valentine rushed to the trailer park, she checked on her immediate neighbors, but none were injured. Her home had sustained only minor roof damage and lost a privacy fence. "We were all alive and OK. Our house was structurally sound," Valentine said. "We said 'forget about this.' We wanted to help people." When she arrived at the scene she came across was a small child who was stuck in a hole filing quickly with rainwater. A medical call was made, but there was no time to wait because the water was about to overtake the little girl. "My husband went home to get a blanket and a shovel to dig her out," Valentine said. "A man with me dug her out with his hands. He had just about gotten the hole big enough to get her out when my husband got back." She and others worked to comfort people until help arrived.

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