Mississippi’s largest psychiatric hospital and a nearby facility for people with developmental disabilities were hit hard by this week’s hail storm with damage that could exceed $1 million, an official said.
Now a race is on to patch holes in roofs and broken windows at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield and the Hudspeth Regional Center before another round of bad weather hits.
“Right now, it’s patch what you can patch and repair what you can repair to get ready for more rain coming this weekend,” said Scott Sumrall, the disaster coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health.
Sumrall said Thursday that most of the buildings have roof damage or broken windows at the state hospital, a sprawling 350-acre campus that serves about 500 psychiatric patients and more than 400 people in nursing homes.
Blue tarps were stretched atop many buildings at Whitfield on Thursday and workers removed busted clay-tiles from the roof of a guard post. Wrecker trucks hauled out cars pocked with dents and shattered windows. A greenhouse used by patients in a horticulture program was reduced to a metal frame over shards of glass and battered plants.
Most of the facilities vehicles were damaged and unusable, so cars were brought in from other facilities.
Nearby Hudspeth Regional Center also had damage, including an administration building that “looks like somebody punched holes in the roof,” Sumrall said. About 285 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live at Hudspeth and it serves an additional 1,400.
“I think we’re easily looking at over a million dollars, possibly millions,” in damage, Sumrall said.
Sumrall said he estimates Monday’s storm broke 2,000 panes of window glass.
There were no injuries from the storm, which dumped chunks of ice as big as baseballs on some parts of Mississippi, including the Jackson metro area. Whitfield and Hudspeth are in Rankin County.
The storm pounded a swath from Warren County through Jackson and its suburbs and into Rankin, Scott and Jasper counties, said Chad Entremont, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson.
Entremont said there’s the possibility of more bands of severe weather in central Mississippi on Friday and Saturday. Those storms will have the potential for damaging winds and hail, but forecasters say the hail isn’t likely to be as big as what hit earlier this week.
It’s too early to tell exactly where the weather will hit or how severe it will be, though some forecast models show storms pushing along the Interstate 20 corridor, an area hit hard by the earlier weather, Entemont said.
Authorities don’t know yet how many homes, buildings and cars were damaged, but it could be in the thousands.
The Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration said Thursday that authorities are investigating possible damage at 18 state buildings or sites, including the Governor’s Mansion and the state Capitol, and that “very preliminary field reports” show the damage to be at least $5 million and possibly as high as $10 million.
Roszell Gadson, a spokesman for State Farm, the state’s largest home and automobile insurer, said late Wednesday that his company had already received nearly 12,000 claims in Mississippi.
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has said there could end up being 35,000 to 50,000 claims in the state.
Numerous government buildings took a beating from the storm and dozens of police cars and other vehicles used by other first responders were trashed. A Clinton elementary school was closed due to extensive roof damage.
“It may take us a while to get a good grasp of the monetary value of the damage, but it will probably be pretty staggering,” said Entremont, the meteorologist.