By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
BROWNFIELD – The storm shelter that saved Dolie Boyd and her family when a tornado struck early Sunday morning could very well have become a tomb.
An old-growth pine tree, toppled by the high-velocity winds, fell across the roof of the shelter and cracked the roof.
“We were scared,” the 81-year-old widow said. She, her daughter, granddaughter, grandson and her grandson’s girlfriend all were in the shelter.
Her daughter lives next door, and her grandson lives with her. They had all gathered at the shelter after hearing the report that they had only a short time to find cover.
“I went out to smoke a cigarette and heard it coming,” said Boyd’s daughter, who asked that her name not be used. “It’s like everybody always says – it sounded like a train coming through.”
She hurried back inside just in time.
“When the tree slammed on the roof, we didn’t know if we were going to make it,” she said.
The family stayed put until daybreak, not knowing if another twister might hit.
They came out to find a lot of damage.
A travel trailer that sat at the back of the house was tossed hundreds of yards and across the road. An SUV that was under a shed was toppled on its side and the shed was not to be seen anywhere. So, too, with a gazebo and a treehouse that used to be near the house.
Evidence of the tornado’s path through Brownfield was all along County Road 120, which starts at the northern border of Tippah County off Highway 15, less than a mile from the Tennessee state line.
Oaks that have weathered hundreds of years, and pines perhaps only decades old, smashed through the roofs of some homes, obscured and blocked access to others and made cars crushed under their weight invisible.
Boyd and other residents called themselves fortunate that there was no loss of life, and signs of recovery have already begun.
Trucks from Tombigbee Electric Power Association in Fulton shared the narrow road with Tippah Electric Power Association in Ripley, as they worked to restore power.
Tombigbee spokesman Barry Thrasher said even though their work would be completed on Tuesday, many homes would not be able to access the power until additional work was done to restore service from the power poles to the homes.
The whine of chainsaws was everywhere.
Volunteers from Southern Baptist Convention Mississippi Disaster Relief and Assemblies of God Mississippi Disaster Response were cutting the many old-growth trees to get them off people’s roofs and create access to their houses.
The close call inside the storm shelter didn’t shake Boyd’s confidence in seeking safety in a shelter in the future.
She was just a young girl when the Tupelo tornado struck, and remembers her father building the first storm shelter after that. Whenever severe weather threatened, he would make sure the family was safely inside to wait it out.
“My family has always lived near here, and we had the shelter in another place before,” Boyd said. “After we built this one we used it when a tornado struck in ’84.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.