Lengthy cleanup process expected after DeSoto County tornadoes

Lengthy cleanup process expected after DeSoto County tornadoes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Preliminary findings from the National Weather Service in Memphis revealed two tornadoes touched down in North Mississippi on Saturday morning.

A reported EF-1 tornado in Tate County traveled into DeSoto County with winds estimated around 100 miles per hour. And a reported EF-2 tornado touched down near Hernando and traveled into Olive Branch with winds near 120 miles per hour.

Straight-line wind damage in Tunica County was estimated around 80 miles per hour.

One of the hardest-hit areas in Olive Branch appeared to be Allison Road, in the Lewisburg community.

“Today we’re just out gathering up the sheet metal,” said Craig Vinson.

A look at Craig Vinson’s property Sunday should remove any doubt about how powerful the winds were Saturday morning. Metal sat twisted around a tree, with other tall trees toppled over in every direction and splintered, classic signs of a tornado.

Vinson said he got his wife and three children to safety with seconds to spare.

“Large debris started hitting the house, put the family in the bathtub, shut the doors, windows started blowing out,” he said. “You’ll know when it goes from a strong thunderstorm to something dangerous.”

Vinson’s home wasn’t structurally damaged, but he said they’re some of the lucky ones. Other residents on Allison Road had parts of homes blown away. There were hundreds of trees knocked down just on that road.

“My youngest told me mom you prayed over us from the time it started until the time it ended,” said Shannon Shaw.

Shaw, her husband, two daughters, and their three friends sleeping over piled into a closet below the stairs. She said she can’t get the sound out of her mind.

“It was just an extremely loud roar,” Shaw said. “It was in all of my life the most traumatic experience I’ve ever had.”

Neighbors who were still without power Sunday themselves cooked meals for the street and used a generator to keep cookers plugged in. Instead of going back to work Monday, many families in DeSoto County will be picking up.

“That’s what we’re supposed to do. We help each other out and help our community out and our neighbors. We’re all family, so that’s what we do,” said Debbie Crum.

Residents said they’re amazed that despite the destruction, nobody was seriously hurt or killed.

“It’s a miracle,” said Vinson, “It’s a miracle.”

DeSoto County officials said they have two main priorities. First, they want to ensure the debris will be taken away and disposed of. Secondly, they want to make sure power is restored as quickly as possible.

DeSoto County schools wrote in a statement Sunday night that they will operate classes on a regular schedule Monday and excuse students facing adverse situations due to storm damage or travel conditions.

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