Officials still adding up losses from Lafayette Co. tornadoes

Published 6:10 pm Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lafayette County officials expect losses from this past week’s tornadoes to run into the tens of millions of dollars.

Lloyd Oliphant, president of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, said the most recent figures he had seen estimated $25 million to $30 million in damages. Those figures may change as more information becomes available, he said.

Jimmy Allgood, emergency management and homeland security coordinator for the county and the city of Oxford, said 67 structures sustained damage. The number included 11 homes and five mobile homes that were destroyed.

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He said nine commercial buildings, including the Caterpillar plant and AbilityWorks in the county’s Industrial Park, also were destroyed.

Officials said the tornado that plowed through the Industrial Park and homes along county road 291 was an F3 tornado, while an F1 left damage near Sardis Lake. According to the National Weather Service, tornadoes are scaled from F0 to F5. An F1 is a weak tornado, while an F3 is a severe tornado.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., toured the area hit by the stronger tornado Sunday with Allgood, Oliphant and other county officials.

“It was dramatic, unbelievable, what this tornado has done to the Industrial Park, but principally to these people’s homes and their lives,” Wicker said.

While a number of people who lost their homes are living with neighbors, Wicker said, rental assistance will be available.

There were no fatalities in Mississippi from the storm system that claimed nearly 60 lives across the South.