Tupelo residents, leaders thankful Sunday’s tornado left no casualties

Tupelo community bands together after tornado

TUPELO, Miss. (WMC) - The city of Tupelo is no stranger to tornados.

Sunday night’s destruction marked the third time this has happened in eight years, which is how long Mayor Jason Shelton has been in office.

“The unfortunate benefit of that is we’re battle-tested,” Shelton said “We have our emergency plan.”

This most recent tornado strike lasted only about an hour, and shortly after, first responders were out on calls, from fire and EMS to public works.

“They started working on clearing the streets,” the mayor said. “They did that until about 3 a.m., started back around 7 a.m., and had every street in the city of Tupelo clear or passable by 10 a.m.”

“All I can say is by the time I got the ‘clear’ and got the door open, they were pulling up,” said Tupelo resident Leigh Hickman.

Hickman’s home on Elvis Presley Drive, as well as several of her neighbors, were hit by the tornado.

Like Tupelo, she is familiar with tornadoes, but this was the first time she’s personally been impacted.

“I got an alert on my phone. It took a couple of times for me to look at it, but then I got my baby and jumped downstairs.”

Hickman and her seven-year-old daughter braced for impact in the bathroom.

What Hickman described as the sound of hail hitting her roof was actually the shingles being ripped off her roof, she later found out.

“[My daughter was] between the toilet and the vanity cabinet, and I was hanging onto the toilet,” Hickman described. “The water literally sucked out of the toilet.”

“By the time we got in the tub, we took cover, and we just heard a loud boom,” said Jasmine Pounds, Hickman’s across-the-street neighbor.

That boom was the transformer on the two neighbors’ street, leaving them without power.

Once the storm passed, what felt like an eternity to Pounds and Hickman, both stepped outside.

Pounds’ home sustained minor damage, but her next-door neighbor was a different story.

“We see this. It happened so fast,” Pounds said, pointing at her neighbor’s home missing half its roof. “We didn’t know what to expect, what to do. It was mind blowing.”

“I came outside, and we found that,” Hickman said, pointing to her awning that’d been detached and pushed her car out of the driveway.

The miracle through all of this is no one in Tupelo was injured from this storm.

“Thank God there were no injuries, just some pretty significant damage,” Shelton said.

It’s significant damage, but only for a short time.

Things will be repaired, but those who experienced what happened on Sunday night say their lives have been changed forever.

“I don’t care if it’s an F1, an F2, I don’t want to go through another one,” Hickman said.

“Clean up, rebuild, start back over, and just take it one day at a time,” Pounds added.

On the subject of Elvis Presley Drive, there were reports coming in after the storm that the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum had been damaged by the tornado.

WMC reached out to the museum and was told the museum was untouched, not even a limb in the yard.

The birthplace of the King of Rock and Roll still stands, just like the people of Tupelo.

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