Heavy storms hit Miss., La. again - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

03/27/09

Heavy storms hit Miss., La. again

By HOLBROOK MOHR/Associated Press Writer

MAGEE, MS (AP/WLBT) - Another band of severe thunderstorms rolled across the South on Friday, injuring at least one person in Louisiana a day after a small Mississippi town was devastated by a tornado.

Heavy rain, high winds and possible tornadoes toppled trees and power lines and damaged several homes in southern Louisiana late Thursday and early Friday, according to reports received by the National Weather Service.

The storm system was expected to continue eastward across the South on Friday, making for an even more difficult cleanup in Magee, where victims of a pre-dawn tornado on Thursday were still clearing debris from dozens of flattened homes and businesses.

Twenty-eight people were injured in Magee, but there were still no reports of fatalities from the storms.

As the drone of chain saws could be heard throughout the town, Magee Mayor Jimmy Clyde said he was reminded of Hurricane Katrina's wrath in 2005.

"This is like reliving Hurricane Katrina all over again and that's no fun," Clyde said Thursday as his workers dealt with downed power lines and interrupted water service. "We got hit back then and we've really been hit now."

Entergy spokeswoman Mara Hartmann told WLBT early Friday that about 500 Mississippi customers remained without power after Thursday's storms, about half in Simpson County.  WLBT received a few calls from viewers in Simpson County, saying they faced more blackouts Friday morning as the latest storms hit the area.

In Louisiana, authorities said more than 9,000 utility customers had no power Friday morning. Flash flood warnings were issued as water covered sections of roads in southeastern coastal parishes and the New Orleans area.

National Weather Service forecaster Tim Erickson said early Friday that one person was reported injured in Louisiana's Ascension Parish, along with a home destroyed and two others damaged. In Assumption and St. John parishes, mobile homes were damaged, one blown on its side.

Magee's Phillip Runnels spent the aftermath of Thursday's storm sifting through the debris of his mother's mobile home. His mother, Pamela McCallum, 48, was in good condition after being airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Her boyfriend, Larry Pearson, 58, was also injured and was in fair condition.

"She's in pretty bad shape and Mr. Larry, he's in worse shape," Runnels said.

Mississippi's governor declared a state of emergency in Magee's Simpson County. At least nine Mississippi counties reported damage Thursday.

Stephanie Malley, 35, cried as she looked at the shell of her home, its roof gone. She awoke when flying debris hit her in the back. She grabbed her 11- and 13-year-old sons and pulled them into a bathroom.

"We stayed in the bathroom for a long time until everything started coming down," Malley said.

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WLBT staff, Associated Press writers Chris Talbott in Jackson, Miss., and Kevin McGill in New Orleans contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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