EF-1 tornado reported in the Sandtown area
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 1:00 AM
A house and a mobile home were destroyed in the Sandtown community and many other structures damaged late Sunday by an apparent EF-1 tornado with estimated wind speeds of up to 95 mph, the National Weather Service said following its preliminary assessment on Tuesday.
The tornado touched down along Road 743, destroying the two structures and damaging 16 others while the county was under a severe thunderstorm warning, according to Emergency Management Director Jeff Mayo.
William Bozeman's mobile home on Road 743 was deemed unsalvageable.
Bozeman, along with his wife and two grandchildren, were at home when the storm hit.
"My wife said a storm was coming and she got a mattress and tried to get it over the grandkids," he said. "I was in the hallway when we heard the rumbling and the house started shaking."
About five hours later, lightning stuck a house on Airpark Drive, causing one of the largest house fires the Philadelphia Fire Department has ever fought.
The smoke was so intense that one firefighter fell into the swimming pool.
No injuries were reported as the storm system moved through the area starting about 8 p.m. Sunday, eventually dumping about 5 inches of rain and closing some roads.
The apparent tornado snapped at least two utility poles and downed utility lines, which were restored by Central Electric Power Association.
The Neshoba County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency Monday morning, which allows county workers to go onto private property for life safety or health issues and to remove hazards such as trees.
Two houses received major damage and three minor damage in the storm. Seven mobile homes sustained major damage and three others received minor damage.
Damage was also reported to numerous outbuildings and sheds in the area. Several trees were also blown down.
In addition, an agricultural equipment shed on Mississippi 486 was blown down causing damage to a neighboring structure.
One county road was closed due to flooding and one city street.
A five-foot culvert was washed out on county Road 204 in southwestern Neshoba County, which remained closed Tuesday due to flooding.
Williamsville Drive, behind Canal Place Shopping Center near Williams Brothers, was closed for an extended period on Monday due to flooding.
WHOC, an official weather recording agency for the National Weather Service, recorded 4.90 inches of rainfall in the city from midnight Saturday to 6:30 a.m. Monday.
Assistance is being provided to those affected by the storm by neighbors, area churches and the American Red Cross.
The Neshoba County Road Department and the Sheriff's Department has been assisting with chipping and debris removal in the Sandtown area.
Bozeman at Sandtown said it sounded like his house was tearing apart.
"I just had time to lie down on the floor," he said.
After the storm passed Bozeman checked to make sure everyone was OK.
"I looked into the living room and it was like a bomb went off," he said. "I looked up and nearly fainted. The roof was gone!"
Bozeman added that the home wasn't salvageable, with everything being damaged and wet.
"I guess we'll have to take it a step at a time," he said.
Neighbors Dan and Denise Refre's mobile home was damaged extensively.
Refre, an officer with the city police department, said he was asleep when his wife came in saying it was hailing.
"Then the whole trailer lifted up about four to five inches," he said, noting that it was strapped down which prevented it from flipping.
"It [the storm] lifted us up enough that the trailer shifted four feet, the plumbing was ripped out and we were dropped onto our central heat and air unit."
The storm also destroyed a shop and damaged a fence in a pasture.
Refre said the mobile home is unlivable at the time since it shifted off its foundation.
The Charles Chadwick family was in their mobile home on Road 743 when the storm hit.
"At first I thought it was a hailstorm," he said, noting that he soon changed his mind.
"I grabbed my son and tried to get my wife out of bed when I heard the roar as it went overhead. I've never been in a tornado before. It downed a tree over a shed and scattered bits of debris."
He noted that the storm was powerful enough to rip a pine tree from its roots and twist a sweet gum tree.
Chadwick said he'll clean up and rebuild the shed if possible. His mobile home sustained minor damage.
Donna Robertson and her husband were in the living room when they heard a pop.
The roof was torn off above a bedroom on one end of their mobile home. Debris had damaged a fence surrounding the home.
"We jumped up and then the house started rattling," Robertson said. "I grabbed my daughter out of bed and got the mattress off and we got under it."
Robertson said the shaking didn't last long before it stopped, noting that they prayed until it ended.
The plan is to clean up, she said, adding that the storm only damaged one bedroom.
Joe Dertinger on Road 743 said he was in bed with the storm struck and severely damaged his mobile home.
"My wife heard it and woke me up and we got our kids up," he said. "We jumped into the hallway when it hit."
The storm, he said, picked up one side of their mobile home, dropped it and picked up the other side.
"We felt the house rumbling and it sounded like a train was coming," Dertinger said.
An attached wooden front porch on the mobile home was heavily damaged.