Severe storms producing tornadoes are prevalent throughout the region this morning with tornado, severe thunderstorm and flash flood watches remaining in effect for Calhoun County and the surrounding area for much of today.
Reports have come in of severe damage along Hwy. 82, including the Cumberland area of Webster County where East Webster High School suffered significant damage. Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has confirmed at least four deaths overnight in Webster and Choctaw counties.
Choctaw County Coroner Keith Coleman said a police officer, from Covington, La., and the man’s daughter were camping in a tent at Jeff Busby State Park north of Ackerman when the storm hit Wednesday morning.
“He covered his daughter with his body when the storm came through to protect her. A tree limb fell and hit him in the head killing him. The daughter was not hurt. She was still at the campground waiting for family to arrive,” Coleman said.
Coleman said the name the victim was not being immediately released.
Webster County Coroner Steve Wells said a man was killed about 2:30 a.m. when a tree fell on his mobile home located between Eupora and Mathiston off U.S. Highway 82.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency damage reports had come in from at least 33 counties from the Delta to northeast Mississippi. Most of the damage was downed trees and power lines and damage to home and businesses.
Jeff Rent, a MEMA spokesman, said a road crew worker in Yazoo County was struck and killed by a tree the crew was removing. He didn’t know if the worker was employed by the state, county or city.
In Lafayette County, emergency management director David Shaw said the driver of an 18-wheeler was killed early Wednesday in Lafayette County when his truck hit a tree that had blown down across Mississippi Highway 30 east of Oxford. The driver was not immediately identified.
Shaw said two people were slightly hurt when the tractor-trailer rig they were in was blown over by high winds in the parking lot of the Winchester plant.
“We apparently had a tornado come through here. We had extensive damage from the west side of the county to the east … mostly trees down, homes damaged and downed power lines. There were no other injuries,” he said.
In Webster County, Wells said the sheriff’s department and other emergency officers were working out of the Europa City Hall because of power outages.
He said there had been damage to several structures, including the East Webster school. He said no students were present when the storm came through.
“There’re lots of trees and power lines down along the Highway 82 and Highway 15 corridors,” Wells said.
On Tuesday, authorities said a 3-year-old girl in McComb, Miss., was killed when a storm toppled a large tree onto her family’s home. The girl’s parents, who were in the room with her, were both injured.
Entergy Corp. reported about 133,000 customers without power in Mississippi and northern Louisiana at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Rent, with MEMA, said authorities are concerned about the possibility of flash flooding in the northern part of the state, though there had been no reports of it by Wednesday morning.
“From Highway 82, north, has just been pounded again and again,” Rent said.
The National Weather Service Office in Jackson said thunderstorms with high winds and possible tornadoes caused tree and power line damage from Bastrop, La., to the small community of Cross Roads in Tishomingo County, Miss.
Two nights of powerful storms have killed at least 10 people in Arkansas and five in Mississippi.
Pictures of East Webster’s gym, baseball field and classrooms are courtesy of Dean Johnson’s Twitter account (@Dean_Johnson_68).
The Caterpillar plant in Oxford suffered damage early this morning. Numerous cars in the parking lot were damaged as well. Tornadoes are still being reported in the Oxford area as of 9:15 a.m.
Entergy Mississippi is reporting a total 33,278 customers without power as of 9 a.m. Hardest hit areas are Hinds County, 12,208; Attala County, 4,341; Grenada, 2,442; Holmes, 2,764; Madison, 1,609; Rankin, 2,516; and Warren.
Story compiled from local reports and the Associated Press.