Tornado Recovery Updates: Mississippi death toll from storms climbs to 35

By NEMS Daily Journal

5:01 p.m. – The Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, churches and individual volunteers are helping with relief efforts in Mississippi, The Associated Press reports.

“It was just laid on my heart to come up here and help,” 33-year-old Mindy Williams said by phone Saturday from Smithville.

Williams lives 15 miles to the north in Mooreville. She said and her 10-year-old daughter, Lindsey Mitchell, have been helping the Salvation Army hand out meals and bottles of water at a temporary station outside a Smithville pharmacy that was gutted by the tornado.

Susan Gilbert of Tupelo, who’s running the Salvation Army site in Smithville, said volunteers have provided baby formula, diapers, ice, drinks and meals. The assistance goes to storm victims and recovery workers.

“I say we’re sort of like my mama. We’ll feed anyone who comes by,” Gilbert said Saturday.

She said people who are on all-terrain vehicles have been loading up with food, ice and drinks to take to those who are still sorting through debris to find their lost belongings.

MEMA said Saturday that its latest survey showed 2,527 homes in Mississippi damaged. Of those, 993 were destroyed or had major damage. The agency said 104 businesses were damaged. Of those, 62 were destroyed or had major damage.

MEMA director Mike Womack and other officials on Saturday flew over storm-struck areas to do aerial assessments.

4:57 p.m. – The response has been amazing from communities around Northeast Mississippi to those in need. Monroe Journal’s Alice Ortiz tells about some items needed ….

Immediate supplies needed revealed to Sav-A-Life today in Amory to help tornado victims:

lip balm/chapstick

hats

sunscreen

styrofoam coolers, hygien products

cleaning supplies, work gloves

walmart sacks

can openers

bunk beds

port cribs

African-American hair care items sucha as doo gro supplies, oil sheen, sulpher 8, relaxers,wide tooth combs, hard brisitled brushes and doo rags.

Other items needed:
bath containers to store bath water in such as large buckets, plastic containers (storage boxes)

bleach

pine soil

mops

bathroom cleaner

kitchen cleaner

garbage bags

styrofoam coolers

Contact: Dana Copeland Sav-A-Life Amory 257-9043 & 305-5554

4:37 p.m. – Here are the people killed by severe storms in Mississippi during this past week, according to lists compiled by The Associated Press provided by coroners and law enforcement officers:

***

— Chickasaw County: Three deaths. Names unavailable.

— Choctaw County: One death. Wade Sharp, 40, a lieutenant for the Covington, La., Police Department, died Wednesday in Jeff Busby Park while he was camping with his daughter and a tree fell on their tent.

— Clarke County: Four deaths. Billy Joe Haney, 32; Pat Robinson, 64; Dewayne Baldwin, 46; and Robert Jenkins, 58. All died Wednesday in a mobile home in the New Bethel community.

— Jasper County: Two deaths. Husband and wife, Michael Maily, 59, and Beverly Maily, 57, died Wednesday in a mobile home that was destroyed in the Louin community.

— Kemper County: Three deaths. Sisters Florrie Green and Maxine McDonald, and their sister-in-law Johnnie Green, all died in a mobile home that was destroyed Wednesday. All were in their 80s.

— Lafayette County: One death. Charles Jones, 57, of Oxford, was killed about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday when his 18-wheeler truck hit a tree and ran off Mississippi Highway 30 east of Oxford.

— Marshall County: Two deaths. Charles Foster, late 50s, of Byhalia, died of an apparent heart attack early Tuesday while helping other volunteer firefighters clear trees from a road. Rev. Artwell Craft, 66, of Holly Springs, died when his car washed off a flooded road early Wednesday he was going to pick up a patient who had a dialysis appointment.

— Monroe County: 15 deaths. Thomas Lynn Davis, 55; of Monroe County. Smithville deaths: Jessie Cox, 84; Courtney Easter, 21; Mildred Elam, 79; Nellie Ruth Estis, 61; Roy Estis, 63; Celia Fay Jackson, 92; Carla Jones, 37; Marvis Jean Manley, 70; Alan Scott Morris, 41; Betty Newkirk, 78; Jessica Pace, 18; Lucille Parker, 86; Elvin Patterson, 80; Mary Lavern Patterson, 77.

— Pike County: One death. Jabriel M. Branch, 3, of McComb, died when a tree fell on her family’s home.

— Smith County: One death. Anthony Turner, 53, died in a mobile home that was destroyed in the Warren Hill community.

— Webster County: One death. Mike Rogers, age not available, killed about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday when a tree fell on his mobile home in Ticky Bend between Eupora and Mathiston off U.S. 82.

— Yazoo County: One death. Charles H. “Harold’ Coker, 48, of Yazoo City, a road crew member who was killed Wednesday when he was struck by a tree the crew was removing from old Highway 49.

2:21 p.m. – Mississippi’s death toll has climbed to 35 from this week’s violent storms, according to a story by Emily Wagster Pettus of The Associated Press.

Monroe County Coroner Alan Gurley says a woman’s body was found Saturday morning in rubble near her home in Smithville. Monroe County alone has now reported 15 deaths.

The National Weather Service classified the Wednesday afternoon twister that hit Smithville as an EF-5, the strongest rating for tornado damage. Authorities say about a dozen people are missing in the town of 900, which was mostly flattened.

At least 163 people were injured in several counties across Mississippi, and President Barack Obama has issued a disaster declaration.

Volunteers are feeding and providing shelter for people left homeless by the storms.

Also there has been a Smithville Recovery Facebook page set up.

Click this link to it.

12:30 p.m. – Mississippi Highway Patrol Press Release …

Smithville Mayor Gregg Kennedy
Press Release Requested On Following Points

– Burn ban has been issued effectively immediately for all of Monroe County until further notice.

– Boil water notice for Smithville has been issued by Smithville Water Department via request to Mississippi Department of Health.

– Garbage pickup will resume on Monday, May 2, 2011 south of Hwy. 25.

– Smithville City Hall operations will resume on Monday, May 2, 2011 located at the Smithville Community Center.

– Volunteers may bring heavy equipment to Smithville; however, they are not allowed to dig or remove structures due to the potential for damage to underground utilities. Heavy equipment should only be used to remove downed trees.

– FEMA Disaster Recovery Center phone number for residents to call to pre-register is 1-800-621- 3362.

– Smithville is under a 6:30 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. curfew. Only Smithville residents and volunteers who register at the Smithville School and are assigned to work teams will be allowed into Smithville during non-curfew hours.

– One resident is still being reported as missing: Rigoberto Soto, Hispanic Male – No age known – Place of employment: United Furniture

To report missing persons or if you have information on those listed as missing please call 662-305-3214.

– Contact List for Smithville:

Housing – First Baptist Church (Amory) – 662-256-7131

Development – Grace Fellowship (Hatley) – 662-257-1228

Water – Christian Chapel (Hatley) – 662-315-3472 (Marshall)

Clothes – First Free Will Baptist Church (Amory) – 662-315-9890 (Chris) or 662-574-8445
Food & Toiletries – Save A Life (Amory) – 662-257-9043

Bath Water & Hot Food – Smithville Church of Christ – 662-651-5111 (Micky)

11:30 a.m. – From Northern District public service commissioner Brandon Presley on Twitter …

Just met with Mayor Kennedy in Smithville. Water has been restored to many places in Smithville. Boil water notice is effect.

Monroe Board of Supervisors has issued a county-wide burn ban

11 a.m. – TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Southerners found their emergency safety net shredded Friday as they tried to emerge from the second-deadliest day for a twister outbreak in U.S. history.

Emergency buildings are wiped out. Bodies are stored in refrigerated trucks. Authorities are begging for such basics as flashlights. In one neighborhood, the storms even left firefighters to work without a truck.

The death toll from Wednesday’s storms reached 337 across seven states, including at least 246 in Alabama.

The largest death toll ever was on March 18, 1925, when 747 people were killed in storms that raged through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The second deadliest day had been in March 1932, when 332 people died, all in Alabama.

The 1925 outbreak was long before the days when Doppler radar could warn communities of severe weather. Forecasters have said residents were told these tornadoes were coming. But they were just too wide and powerful and in populated areas to avoid a horrifying body count.

Hundreds if not thousands of people were injured Wednesday — 990 in Tuscaloosa alone — and as many as 1 million Alabama homes and businesses remained without power.

The scale of the disaster astonished President Barack Obama when he arrived in the state Friday.

“I’ve never seen devastation like this,” he said, standing in bright sunshine amid the wreckage in Tuscaloosa, where at least 45 people were killed and entire neighborhoods were flattened. Hours later, Obama signed disaster declarations for Mississippi and Georgia, in addition to one he had authorized for Alabama.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox called the devastation “a humanitarian crisis” for his city of more than 83,000.

Maddox said up to 446 people were unaccounted for in the city, though he added that many of those reports probably were from people who have since found their loved ones but have not notified authorities. Cadaver-detecting dogs were deployed in the city Friday but they had not found any remains, Maddox said.

During the mayor’s news conference, a man asked him for help getting into his home, and broke down as he told his story.

“You have the right to cry,” Maddox told him. “And I can tell you, the people of Tuscaloosa are crying with you.”

Friday night, Tuscaloosa officials reduced downward the death toll for the city and its police jurisdiction by six to 39, still the most in Alabama. With that change factored in, the state’s death toll stood at 246 early Saturday.

At least one tornado — a 205 mph monster that left at least 13 people dead in Smithville, Miss. — ranked in the National Weather Service’s most devastating category, EF-5. Meteorologist Jim LaDue said he expects “many more” of Wednesday’s tornadoes to receive that same rating, with winds topping 200 mph.