Homes destroyed, two hurt in Union County

BY ERROL CASTENS
Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

NEW ALBANY – Several houses were demolished and dozens of other homes and business sustained damage late Friday afternoon in New Albany and other parts of Union County as storms that apparently included at least two tornadoes strafed the county.

No deaths were reported, but Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County's emergency room treated two people with storm-related orthopedic injuries. A Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman said as of late Friday night there were no reports of serious injuries in Northeast Mississippi.

About a dozen homes in Colonial Gardens subdivision were heavily damaged, as were others in the Northaven neighborhood.

“We've got probably 25 or 30 people who will need shelter,” a New Albany Police Department dispatcher said.

To help those people and 4,500 who are without power, two shelters were opened in the county – Myrtle Methodist Church and Temple Baptist Church.

Numerous roads both in town and around the county were blocked by downed trees, including State Highways 15 North, 178 West and 30 West.

According to MEMA, damage has been reported along Highway 30 West near Enterprise and Highway 30 East at County Road 150. Also, MEMA said the northeastern portion of New Albany had heavy debris with portions of the area being inaccessible to first responders on the scene.

The Enterprise community was isolated from Highway 30, its main artery, after a twister came through about 5:30 p.m. It caused significant damage, according to unconfirmed reports, to a feed mill, convenience store, cotton gin and at least one church building. Hundreds of cars snaked through narrow county roads to detour around the devastated community.

“We saw (the tornado) over across the highway by Union Construction,” said Ashley Russell, who coaches baseball at West Union Attendance Center. Russell and school principal Paul Carnero were waiting at the school for the beginning of a musical fundraiser, which was subsequently canceled. Canopies, a fence and a baseball dugout were damaged on the campus.

“There's nothing that will interfere with keeping the school open,” Carnero said.

At Pinedale, near Enterprise, the metal roofing from several barns and sheds was tossed into a county road and nearby fields, and neighbors tried to waterproof a law enforcement officer's storm-damaged roof in the fading daylight.

Dispatchers for the Union County Sheriff Department said Keownville, east of New Albany, also faced extensive damage, although reports were not available on the numbers or severity of the damage.

A MEMA spokeswoman said responders from Lafayette and Pontotoc counties are providing mutual aid to Union County with debris clearance and search and rescue operations.

Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

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