Hattiesburg Salvation Army damaged during storms

Darin HammondJan 23, 2017

Severe storms in southern MS have left at least four people dead and 20 others injured.

In the aftermath of the storm, people were trapped in their homes and Mayor Johnny DuPree issued an emergency declaration and told reporters that a search and rescue mission is underway in the city of more than 48,000 citizens. Then it ripped into Forrest County before heading south of downtown Hattiesburg. Three to five inches of rain fell, causing flash flooding in some areas.

Lee Smithson, executive director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said the clean-up of the debris resulting from the devastating tornado will take weeks.

Greg Flynn of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said "massive damage" was reported in a three-county area that was struck by a tornado at around 4 a.m.

William Carey public relations coordinator Mia Overton reported some students were injured.

Equipped with dogs and all-terrain vehicles, they conducted door-to-door searches stretching from police headquarters to nearby William Carey University in one of the most heavily damaged areas. "Damage to dorms, Tatum Court, Thomas Hall", the university said on Twitter.

Mississippi Power crews are assessing damage and working to restore power in the areas that are safe for them to work. He observed buildings that had windows blown out and were standing with water. He continued on to say the wind also peeled back the roof on every building at their Hattiesburg campus.

The storms were part of a system moving through southern MS and Alabama on Saturday morning.

There are conflicting reports as to how many people have died in the storm. For students who could not otherwise make it to their homes, arrangements were being made.

The campus has about 3,200 students.

Photos and television images of the damaged areas showed cars flipped over, sometimes piled on top of each other, and parts of houses ripped into shards of wood and debris.

The severe weather is expected to continue as it moves through the southeastern portion of the state. A large part of Arkansas was under a tornado watch, and forecasters warned that severe storms could develop in the evening.

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