Coahoma County coroner confirms 11th death following MS storms

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - At least 17 people were killed and over 50 injured across three states in Wednesday's deadly storms. Eleven died in Mississippi. Overall, at least 17 tornadoes touched down in the WMC Action News 5 viewing area. The hardest hit areas are Holly Springs, Ashland and Clarksdale.

MEMA said all missing people were accounted for as of Saturday morning.

The storms that ripped through northern Mississippi have been given a preliminary categorization by the National Weather Service as EF-3, leaving 151 miles of devastation in the state.

Residents across three states spent their Christmas Eve surveying damage, cleaning up debris and trying to put back the pieces of their homes and their lives right before the holidays.

MISSISSIPPI:

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has confirmed eleven deaths from the severe weather that began moving through the state early Wednesday. Preliminary reports indicate damage in seven counties.

Marshall County: MEMA confirmed two people died in Marshall County, Mississippi, following severe storms that ripped through the state Wednesday night.

A 7-year-old child was killed in Holly Springs, Mississippi, when a tornado swept through the area.

Nicholas Pulmroy, 7 years old, was killed during the storm while in a vehicle. Pulmroy's mother, father, and younger sister are recovering from injuries in the hospital.

The Holly Springs police chief confirmed they are actively searching for multiple people stuck in homes. The First Baptist Church in Holly Springs is open as a shelter.

The police chief said he has never seen destruction like this before.

To find out how you can get help from the Red Cross or help others, click here.

Thursday morning, the sheriff confirmed that a woman also died as a result of injuries related to the storm.

Many Holly Springs residents are being kept from their homes for their own safety as emergency crews assess the damages and search for victims.

Highway 7 was blocked off after the storm, but reopened overnight. Many people who live off Highway 7 walked as far as a mile to see the destruction that was hard to see in the dark. Early Thursday morning, debris and power lines were still scattered across the road.

LaJohn Curry said his home was destroyed by the tornado and his mother and sister were inside the home at the time. Thankfully, they were not hurt.

"I just thank God that they are here. It wasn't about the house. It was about the family. They are the most important thing to me and just being able to see it, it's the hardest thing to take in but I've got one blessing and that's my family," Curry said. "My family is still here with me."

Curry and his family lost everything in the storm.

Several vehicles, including tractor-trailers and SUVS were blown over near Holly Springs, MS. Major tree damage is also being reported. First Baptist Church in Holly Springs is opening for anyone in the area who needs shelter.

Brenda Brown was one of the victims of the storm in Holly Springs. Her home was destroyed, the roof ripped off, brick foundation broken and windows smashed. It was a place she called home for two decades.

"It's gone. Everything gone," Brown said, through her tears. "I'm just thankful that I'm here, for my grandbabies and for my family."

Brown said she narrowly missed the storm while out helping her father who was involved in a car accident Wednesday.

"I was on my way out to see my dad when they called me and I was just like 'no', Brown said. "Thank God I wasn't here. I would have been gone."

The two hardest hit areas in the area are off Highway 4 and Highway 178. In these two areas, there were downed power lines and homes that no longer had a roof. Many people were trapped on their property and could not go down their driveway because of downed power lines.

"It's still the Lord's house. We're gonna say a prayer and we're gonna ask the Lord to bless it. The Lord will replace that church back. We gonna say spiritually," John Powell, pastor of Jones Grove Missionary Baptist Church, said.

The church was destroyed in the storm.

Many property owners are doing what they can not to let the devastation ruin their Christmas.

"Speak of the Grinch that stole Christmas, but, spared our lives," Anetta Lesuer said.

The Leseur family did not expect Christmas to be such a trying time, but like many Holly Springs residents, they are evaluating what is left.

"By the time we got down, it just went woosh and we just started praying," Leseur said.

She said her family gathered together in the house and took cover together as the tornado approached.

"You just know at that time that any minute you could be gone," Leseur said. "When you look just down the street, your neighbors, their homes are completely gone."

In the Collins Circle area, south of Holly Springs, rescue workers had to cut their way into the community in order to respond to people who were trapped or injured in their homes.

Benton County: MEMA confirms at least five people died as a result of the storms in Ashland, MS. One victim was taken to Magnolia Hospital and died from injuries caused by the storm.

Friday, an elderly female was found dead in Walnut, MS, near the Benton County line near Highway 72.

Michael A. Nunnally, 47, of County Church Road in Lamar was residing at the same home as two other victims. He was missing for several days. MEMA said his body was found early Saturday morning.

MEMA said a search and rescue team of about 50 to 60 people found Nunnally and another missing woman, Tasha Brown.

Thursday, Neighbors spent the day cleaning up debris and their homes.

"It's just a nightmare. That's all," Teresa McKay, neighbor said. "I just want to wake up."

McKay knew Nunnally, and expressed her worry Thursday.

"A big ol' teddy bear," McKay said. "Sweet person. You couldn't ask for a sweeter person."

Search crews from all over the area, including one team from Philadelphia, Mississippi, spent most of the evening and night Wednesday as well as on Thursday searching for Nunnally.

Nunnally's family learned of his death just one day before his 48th birthday.

"I don't think Michael took the storm as serious as it was," one family member said. "He actually rose to the storm to get to the house."

Family members said on Wednesday, they noticed the storm was going right for Nunnally's home. That is when they tried to contact him but could not reach him.

For days, rescue workers and family searched the area for signs. Saturday, they got one when a family member found Tasha Brown-Williams's shoe in the woods.

"He looked at the path of the trees and he didn't think the area had been searched too much and he decided to try over there and found them."

Both bodies were found thanks to the family's tireless efforts.

"We just got to pick up the pieces and go on and pray," said Brown-Williams' uncle Charlie Brown.

Brown said he rushed to County Church Road Saturday after hearing his niece's body was found.

"That was my niece and she loved me to death," Brown said.

"There's nothing left of my house. Nothing but all that debris," McKay said. All that is left of McKay's home is her porch.

She said her and her husband were inside the home when they saw the tornado coming straight toward them. They ran, got into a truck and that truck was later pinned against a tree.

"The glass coming out and all the branches and stuff coming through the truck, it was scary," McKay said."It was beyond scary."

Just next door to McKay, a mother and her 5-year-old daughter stood looking at what was left of their home.

"She's still upset, saying 'well momma, what we gonna get for Christmas.' I said, 'well we still gonna be okay," Kenya Williams, neighbor said. "We're here. That's a Christmas gift enough in itself."

Williams was not home at the time but her legally blind father was at home. She said he went by sound to find the safest place to get during the storm. After the storm came through, a neighbor pulled her father from the rubble.

"Things can be replaced but you can't replace people," Williams said.

Max Croxton, 69, and Ellen Croxton, 67, both of Hamilton Road, Falkner, MS were killed in the storms. Their home was located in the north part of the county. The home was completely destroyed.

William E. Crawford, 67, of County Church Road in Lamar, MS and Patricia G. Williams, 58, of County Church Road were also killed. It appears both victims were residing at a home in the central part of the county and the home was completely destroyed.

Click here to view photos from Ashland

According to Benton County sheriff's dispatch, there is widespread damage, power outages, trees down and reports of people trapped in homes on Hamilton Road and Minor Bridge Road in Ashland, MS.

The Ashland Fire Department's station is serving as the command center to take injured people.

The largest problem rescuers face at this point is downed power lines.

Troopers had to block off areas where multiple tornadoes destroyed an entire mobile home neighborhood.

"We had to block off your main entrances so that rescue people could get here and keep the on-lookers out," Mississippi Highway Patrol Sergeant Richard Vaughn said.

Several mobile homes were flipped upside down and horses are running free.

Sarah Hudson was in tears as she looked at her home that was destroyed by the storm. She said her brother was inside the home and he nearly lost his life. "I had went on up to my momma's to come on out. He didn't make it out."

The tornado pulled the house from the ground and threw her brother into the trees.

"That was scary. Real, real, real scary," Hudson said. "Praise God we got out."

Her brother went through surgery but the family remained positive and encouraging.

"He's doing good," Hudson said.

Asphalt was ripped up and trees were snapped in half.

Deputies went house to house throughout the night looking for victims.

In Panola County, the following video was posted to Twitter from Tres Brassell of a tornado near Batesville, MS.

Tree limbs are down and mobile homes were damaged in Como, MS near Highway 51.

A tractor-trailer overturned near Sardis, MS where several homes and a barn were also damaged. One person was injured in the 18-wheeler.

In Coahoma County, Mississippi, Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett said approximately 18-20 homes were destroyed after a tornado ripped through around 4 p.m. Clarksdale's Civic Center will be open to displaced families and people looking for a hot meal and shelter. An agricultural airstrip was also destroyed. The county suffered major damage.

"She said she saw the storm across the field from her and then it stopped. Then it started towards her and the house and they got in the bathtub," one resident said.

Hundreds of storm survivors have been left homeless or without power. Power crews are quickly working to try and restore power.

61-year-old Diane Fredrick died at Regional Medical Center from injuries she sustained in the tornado in the Bellevue community.

Tuesday, almost a week after the storms hit, the Coahoma County coroner announced a woman died at a Memphis hospital while being treated for her injuries.

Quitman County, Mississippi had multiple homes destroyed. A possible injury was reported. Storm chases captured footage of the tornado that ripped through Marks, Mississippi.

Emergency crews from all over the Mid-South have been sent to help with the damage.

Tippah County sustained extensive damage, with homes destroyed, after a wedge tornado ripped through the area in Walnut, Mississippi. One person was killed during the storm. The fire department was destroyed.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant sent his condolences for those who lost their lives and asked for prayers.

Deborah and I are deeply saddened to hear of the lives that were lost during today's tornado outbreak.  I ask that Mississippians keep the numerous families affected by these storms in their thoughts and prayers during the holiday season.  I am in contact with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety coordinating disaster response to ensure the areas in immediate need are receiving any and all state resources that can assist them during this time

Bryant declared a State of Emergency for Benton, Coahoma, Marshall, Panola, Prentiss, Quitman and Tippah counties and other affected areas of the state. The declaration allows local governments to request state assistance with response and recovery.

To see photos of the damage across the Mid-South, click here.


Estimated costs of damages have not been calculated.

"The residential damage and costs is going to be quite a bit," Holly Springs Mayor Kelvin Buck said.

SHELTERS IN MISSISSIPPI: 

Three shelters have been opened in Mississippi for the victims of the storms.

In Coahoma County: Clarksdale Auditorium, 506 E. Second Street, Clarksdale

In Marshall County: Marshall County Multi-Purpose Building, 185 N. Memphis Street, Holly Springs

In Tippah County: Harmony Baptist Church at 28840 Hwy 15, in Walnut.

ARKANSAS:

One woman was killed during the storms Wednesday in Arkansas.

Pope County investigators said a tree fell on a home, killing 18-year-old Michaela Remus and injuring her one-year-old sister. The sheriff said the damage is just unbelievable.

"Christmas you know is around the corner and just the loss of this family that they sustained from this storm this morning is just tragic," Sheriff Shane Jones, Pope County, Arkansas, said.

Nearby neighbors said they are lucky to be alive but they are keeping the family, who will have to spend Christmas without a loved one, in their prayers.

TENNESSEE:

Six people were killed in Tennessee.

The National Weather Service said preliminary data indicates four tornadoes touched down in Middle Tennessee. Two of those tornadoes were in southern Middle Tennessee.

In Perry County, an EF-1 tornado touched down. An aerial video shows roofs ripped off homes in Linden, Tennessee. Two people died in Linden. Governor Bill Haslam visited Perry County on Thursday.

70-year-old Antonio Gomez Yzaguirre and his 69-year-old wife Ann were both killed.

In Wayne County, where an EF-3 hit the small community of Lutts, significant damage was left. The post office was completely destroyed, left in a pile of bricks. The Lutts United Methodist Church, located just feet from the post office, was also destroyed, with only the church bell left untouched. Several homes were destroyed. Four people were reported injured, one in critical condition.

In Hardeman County, the town of Middleton saw some damage to homes and businesses. Power lines were knocked down. Debris scattered.

In Maury County, TEMA announced Thursday night three people were killed in the storms. The victims were a 19-year-old woman and two 22-year-old men.

In Rhea County, a 22-year-old man died after a roadway was swept away by flood waters.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said the state was at a Level III State of Emergency.

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