Thousands remain without power after severe Miss. storm

Published 11:13 pm Saturday, April 5, 2008

Utility company crews fanned out across portions of Central Mississippi on Saturday to restore power and other services in storm damaged areas.

About 52,000 Entergy Mississippi customers were still without power around noon Saturday, company spokeswoman Mara Hartman said.

Most of those — about 44,000 — were in the metropolitan Jackson area. Hartman said most will have power restored by Sunday evening, but it could be later for others.

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“We hope to have all customers up by Sunday night, as we originally state, but it may be into Monday and Tuesday for some customers,” Hartman said. “Outside of a hurricane, this is one of the worst storms to ever hit the Entergy system.

“Weve got our guys out there working, they worked through most of the night and got back out there first thing this morning.”

At the height of the outages, Entergy had 94,000 without power.

Power remained out around north Jackson and the Interstate 55 corridor. Some stoplights are still without power and are being treated at four-way stops.

The National Weather Service crews were surveying damage from Fridays storm, determining if it was straight-line winds or tornadoes that caused damaged across the state.

Crews also were out from Vicksburg to Pickens, where strong winds and rain toppled trees and power lines. From Vicksburg, the storm moved east, hitting downtown Jackson, Terry and Richland around 12:30 p.m.

The weather service reported 51 mph winds at Jackson-Evers International Airport, and 87 mph winds were reported at the Meridian Naval Air Station.

“There was so much damage that was so widespread, we’re actually going to go out and assess what was tornadic damage and what was straight-line wind damage,” said Ashley Wester, a weather service meteorologist.

American Medical Response had responded to 75 emergency calls and transported 22 people to local hospitals, said spokesman Jim Pollard. No fatalities were reported Friday.

Pollard said he did not have details on what kinds of injuries were reported but did say the patients were mainly from the metro area.

The Electric Power Associations of Mississippi also reported roughly 10,000 customers of various smaller, power associations without power.

Uprooted trees, downed power lines and dimmed stoplights prolonged travel across the area.

In Vicksburg, where storms also were reported, many subdivisions and roads already were under water due to Mississippi River flooding. Gov. Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency for Warren County and several others affected by the flooding.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lea Stokes, said emergency workers were monitoring the area in case more resources were needed.

While MEMA also reported damage in several counties from Friday’s storm system, the number of injured was not known.

Tate Moudy of Brandon had just walked into the Southern States Utility Trailer Sales office on U.S. Highway 49 in Richland after showing a trailer to a customer when “there was a big bang from a transformer being knocked out and debris started flying through the front door.”

Moudy said the powerful storm overturned new and used 18-wheeler trailers parked outside the business, damaged the sales office and ripped away part of the roof and twisted beams in the office.

He said employees and others had to remain inside because power lines had fallen across vehicles parked in the lot.

“It was scary, I can tell you that,” he said.