With flooding on the Coast and tornados in the north, Mississippi ran the gambit for severe weather this week, and to show you just how devastated the state is, News 25 sent reporter, Mark Armstrong, to Louisville to cover the aftermath of a major tornado. The devastation in Louisville is so severe that some neighborhoods resemble the aftermath of a bombed city. As residents struggle to rebuild their lives, they say the tornado is something they will never forget.
Carly Peterson, 10, describes the experience. She says, “My phone was getting severe alerts. We were just kind of panicking, so then me, Max, and my little sister, Jess, we just all got in the closet. We all got close and we were just praying.” According to the National Weather Service in Jackson, the tornado was an EF-4. It was three quarters of a mile at its base with winds of 185 miles per hour. Peterson's home was unharmed, but her grandparents’ house wasn't so lucky.
Peterson also says, “I just broke down in tears. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! What’s happened?’” Peterson's grandparents survived the ordeal. Mississippi First Lady, Deborah Bryant, was there to console survivors like Peterson. She was actually in Louisville and saw the tornado first hand. Bryant says, “I was just awed. It’s quite a powerful thing to see, and then to see the destruction.” Early estimates from the Mississippi Emergency Agency say 1,000 homes in Winston County received major damage and at least 300 of those were completely destroyed. At this point, there are nine confirmed deaths in the county with one person still missing.
Giles Ward, a tornado survivor, says, “It just went from dead silence to absolute unmitigated hell. The roof was shaking, the walls were shaking, insulation was flying everywhere. We were all under quilts and blankets and pillows and in the bathtub. It lasted for 45 seconds. It was the longest 45 seconds I ever went through, and then it was quiet. It was over.”