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East Columbus, Lowndes sustain damage but no serious injuries reported

 

Sherry Kostka speaks with neighbors outside her home on Ellis Road in New Hope that was heavily damaged by a massive fallen tree during Monday’s storm.

Sherry Kostka speaks with neighbors outside her home on Ellis Road in New Hope that was heavily damaged by a massive fallen tree during Monday’s storm. Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff

 

A house on King Street in east Columbus is pictured with structural damage to the roof and bedroom.

A house on King Street in east Columbus is pictured with structural damage to the roof and bedroom.
Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff

 

Ronnie Colburn works to clear a driveway off New Hope Road this morning with a chainsaw. Hundreds of oak trees were pushed over by a storm that ripped through the area Monday evening.

Ronnie Colburn works to clear a driveway off New Hope Road this morning with a chainsaw. Hundreds of oak trees were pushed over by a storm that ripped through the area Monday evening.
Photo by: William Browning/Dispatch Staff

 

 

By Nathan Gregory and William Browning

 

No fatalities or serious injuries were reported in the Golden Triangle after multiple tornadoes crossed Mississippi on Monday evening. 

 

The total number of tornadoes will not be confirmed until the National Weather Service conducts a statewide survey, but there were at least five tornadoes that caused significant damage in the state. 

 

A NWS meteorologist in Jackson confirmed this morning that a tornado touched down at approximately 6:10 p.m. near the intersection of Highway 45 and Highway 82 in Lowndes County, near the Bent Oak community. Alan Campbell with the NWS said Springfield Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 45 was destroyed and power lines were down in the area as a result of the tornado. 

 

Parts of east and southeast Lowndes County suffered extensive damage, as well, according to Cindy Lawrence, director of Columbus-Lowndes County Emergency Management. 

 

"We had about 50 houses or more that received damage," Lawrence said. "We've got trees everywhere." 

 

Campbell said the NWS has not been able to confirm that a tornado touched down in East Columbus but the area sustained winds of 75 to 85 mph. Mayor Robert Smith said this morning that some homeowners in the area were stranded but "emergency responders got them out of there safely." 

 

Lowndes County Road Manger Ronnie Burns said at one point 25 county roads were closed, but were all in the process of being cleared this morning by crews. 

 

Residents were pitching in as well. 

 

A little after 6 a.m. today, Ronnie Colburn was working his way up Juanice Hayes' driveway off New Hope Road cutting fallen oak trees away.  

 

Hayes, a retired New Hope teacher, said that she lost power at 6:13 p.m. Monday. In the moments leading up to then "it sounded like my home was under attack by pellet guns," she said. 

 

Hayes huddled in a middle closet in her home, crouched beside a vacuum cleaner, and held a pillow over her head. She was not injured. 

 

This morning she put on water-proof boots and inspected her yard. Leaves were plastered to the outside of her home. Hayes has six acres but only walked through the area near her home. She counted 52 downed trees, mainly oak and pines. Her son said that, in all, probably 100 were down on the property. 

 

None fell on Hayes' roof. 

 

"It was like God put his hand out and protected it," Colburn said. 

 

Theron and Audice McGee live beside Hayes. An oak tree fell through their roof as they huddled in a closet. They were not injured. 

 

The destruction did not last long, Theron McGee said. 

 

"Every one of those trees fell in 30 seconds," he said. "And then it was dead quiet." 

 

A hummingbird feeder was still hanging from the side of their home this morning. A hummingbird was feeding at it. 

 

The area north of Highway 182 between Gardner Boulevard and Lehmberg Road was still without power as of press time today. Power at the Columbus-Lowndes County Port was also out, as well as the power at Baldor on The Island, according to Todd Gale, general manager at Columbus Light & Water. 

 

In all, Gale said somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 customers were without power as a result of the storm. At press time that number was at about 1,000. 

 

"We're still assessing damage and finding broken poles," Gale said. 

 

4-County Electric told The Dispatch that at one time during the storm about 5,500 of its customers were without power. About 2,000 residences were still without power this morning, with about 1,800 being in Lowndes County, concentrated in New Hope. 

 

4-County Communications Specialist Jon Turner said about 40 broken poles and downed power lines had been found as a result of the storm. 

 

Donna Grant, community relations coordinator with Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, said the hospital treated and released several people from Columbus and Louisville, where there was extensive tornado damage. Most of those patients had suffered minor cuts, bruises and scrapes, Grant said. 

 

Fred Toleon, the mayor of Crawford in southwest Lowndes County, said the town sustained little structural damage. Fallen trees and broken limbs stopped traffic in some places and there were flooded roads at times during the worst of the storm. But Toleon said there were no fatalities or serious injuries reported. 

 

Jason Scott, a public information officer with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, said this morning that no state roads in Lowndes County were closed. 

 

Scott said that at approximately 12:30 a.m., Highway 69 was closed because of fallen trees, but it has been reopened. Highway 50 near Gunshoot Road was closed at about 10:30 p.m. Monday because of debris blocking the roadway, but it has also been reopened, Scott said.  

 

Airman 1st Class Stephanie Englar, a public affairs specialist at Columbus Air Force Base, told The Dispatch this morning that the base sustained no damage Monday. 

 

The NWS says more storms are likely this afternoon in Lowndes County, mainly after 2 p.m.

 

 

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