14 Ark. guardsmen hurt as storm hits Camp Shelby barracks

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fourteen Arkansas National Guardsmen were treated at a Hattiesburg hospital for non-life-threatening injuries after powerful winds damaged their barracks at Camp Shelby.

Lt. Co. Doril Sanders, a Camp Shelby spokesman, said the cinderblock building that housed members of the 1st/153rd National Guard Unit was damaged about 11:23 p.m. Monday. The extent of the damage at the sprawling south Mississippi military training facility near Hattiesburg was not immediately known.

There were reports of damage to homes and timber and scattered power outages as violent storms pushed across the state from the west Monday afternoon and evening. Numerous tornado warnings were issued as the storms advanced with violent thunderstorms, damaging winds and heavy rain.

The system moved eastward out of the state early Tuesday, bringing colder temperatures.

Sanders said the identities of the injured Arkansas soldiers were being withheld until their families could be contacted.

“We don’t know the extent of those injuries yet,” Sanders said.

High winds are blamed on the damage in Amite County near Liberty, National Weather Service senior meteorologist Mike Edmonston said, but a storm survey team will check the site Tuesday to determine if the damage was actually caused by a tornado.

Five other Amite County homes suffered heavy damage, though no injuries were reported to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

Terry Steed, Forrest County Emergency Management director, said his office had recorded a wind gust of 44 mph and had reports of pea-sized hail as well as a power line going down around McLaurin.

“So far, we’ve been pretty lucky,” Steed said.

A tornado touched down briefly around 4 p.m. in western Mississippi’s Sharkey County near Holly Bluff and Rolling Fork, but there were few sightings of funnel clouds as high, sustained winds buffeted the state.

Flash flood warnings also were issued in parts of north central and south central Mississippi with up to 3 1/2 inches of rain reported in some areas as the system pushed eastward.