Lafayette County: Storms affect more than 300 structures

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – More than 300 homes and businesses in Lafayette County sustained anything from light damage to total destruction in last week’s consecutive waves of storms.
The numbers were released during Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, which included a review of last week’s storm damage and potential needs for warning systems and shelters.
“We have determined that there were 17 destroyed homes, 89 with major damage, 81 with minor and 108 that were affected in some way – shingle damage or something like that. Two businesses were destroyed, two with major damage, three with minor damage,” Emergency Management Coordinator David Shaw told the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors on Monday.
He said the National Weather Service has declared the storm that raked through Burgess, west Oxford, the Lafayette County Industrial Park and several neighborhoods just north and east of Oxford in the wee hours of Wednesday morning to be a straight-line-wind phenomenon.
The storm that caused damage from Pine Flat to Cambridge, Shaw said, was identified as an EF-3 tornado, with maximum winds of 140 mph. It stayed on the ground for 13.6 miles and was up to a quarter-mile wide.
Shaw said Federal Emergency Management Agency will likely set up a disaster recovery center in Lafayette County, but service to harder-hit counties will take priority.
Although the NOAA Weather Alert radio system went down right when warnings were being issued one after another early Wednesday morning, Shaw said the county’s sirens never faltered, but five isn’t nearly sufficient to cover the county.
“We’ll just keep working to get more of them,” Oliphant said.
The capacity of some public storm shelters also proved to be insufficient, with some locations reporting as many as 35 people standing outside after the shelters were filled. Shaw said that while shelter placement programs are currently dormant, last week’s record-setting storms could prompt their reopening.
Lafayette County Road Manager Jerry Haynie said some 43 roads were blocked at some point Wednesday. He said a new dump site should be available for storm debris soon but that homeowners may also either burn brush in place or pile it for county pickup on the roadside.
“If you’ll get it to the edge of the right-of-way, we’ll get there as soon as possible. It’s going to take a while,” Haynie said. “We can’t come onto private property to get it.”
Residents who need help clearing debris can call (662) 234-3879.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@journalinc.com.