Columbia residents feel lucky to be alive after a close encounte - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Columbia residents feel lucky to be alive after a close encounter with severe weather

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
COLUMBIA, MS (WLBT) -

Christmas Eve is the day for helping hands and picking up the pieces in tornado ravaged Columbia. There's widespread damage, and two lives were lost.

At least 50 businesses were heavily damaged or destroyed, and the number if homes damaged is still being assessed.

But on this Christmas Eve, many people here are counting their blessings.

"You could hear stuff hit the trailer, the top and the side," said Tracey Hutchens. "I knew when it was over I would be like this. God was just with me."

Hutchens knew her son and his children were across the street from the Wilks trailer park, inside a store. She first told them to rush home.

"I called them back, told them to stay there," said Hutchens. "I ran to my closet, hunkered down, and prayed God would take care of them."

Everyone in the Hutchens family was fine, although their homes sustained extensive damage. One of her sons, Joshua Brooms, was at work when the tornado hit.

"Nothing really prepared me to see all of this," said Brooms.

Two people lost their lives in Columbia in the tornado. One of them was 71-year-old Mary Jane Sartin, who also lived in the trailer park. Her home was crushed when Chasity Magee's home blew on top of it. Magee says it's a Christmas blessing that she and her young children were away visiting her mother at the time.

"I have nothing but what I left home in," said Magee. "My kids have nothing. Just thankful to be able to salvage what we can today."

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