Violent storms damage homes and cause evacuations

Published 4:41 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A line of severe thunderstorms pushed through parts of Mississippi on Tuesday, damaging homes and businesses and causing the evacuation of some neighborhoods.

The storms also knocked down power lines and trees, flooded city streets and left thousands of people without power.

Some areas of the state were drenched with as much as 6 inches of rain and gusting winds were recorded around 60 mph in Greenwood and Rankin County, said Jim Fairly, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson.

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The Tillatoba Creek in Tallahatchie County overflowed in three different spots, causing the evacuation of some residents in at least three subdivisions east of Charleston, said Thad Roberts, the county’s emergency management director.

A shelter was opened at Charleston High School. There were rumors that a levee on the creek had been breached, but officials said it was just overflowing. At least 12 homes had water in them, Roberts said.

The rain was welcomed in much of the state, where farms and residential lawns have been in desperate need of water. Jackson was 15 inches below average rainfall for this time of the year before the storms hit.

However, the storms brought flash floods and violent winds that damaged roads, and snarled traffic in some areas.

“We’ve had some pretty significant reports of flooding up in Grenada,” Fairly said. “There were factories that reported up to 2 feet of water.”

Ashley Roth, a spokeswoman with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said 10 homes had minor to major damage in Grenada and 10 businesses also were damaged.

MEMA also reported damage to homes in Calhoun, Tallahatchie, Webster and Yazoo counties.

Panola County had some roads “washed out due to flash flooding,” Roth said.

A tree fell across Interstate 20 near Pelahatchie, causing traffic delays while workers cleared the busy east-west thoroughfare, Jackson-based WLBT-TV reported. More than 12,000 people were without power across the state.

The front moved through northern Mississippi Monday night before intensifying throughout the day Tuesday, forming “a nasty line” that extended through south Mississippi, said Lynn Burse, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson.

Severe thunderstorm warnings remained Tuesday afternoon for southern parts of the state, but the storms were expected to push into Louisiana later in the day, Burse said.