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Thomas Graning /The Daily Mississippian — Damaged buildings are seen along Gloster Street after a tornado hit Tupelo Monday afternoon. The storms continued throughout the state killing at least one woman in Mississippi and damaging countless buildings.
Thomas Graning /The Daily Mississippian — Damaged buildings are seen along Gloster Street after a tornado hit Tupelo Monday afternoon. The storms continued throughout the state killing at least one woman in Mississippi and damaging countless buildings.

Tornadoes cause damage in state

Published 12:12am Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TUPELO (AP) — At least three tornadoes flattened homes and businesses, flipped trucks over on highways and bent telephone poles into 45-degree angles as they barreled through the South on Monday, killing at least one woman in Mississippi and unleashing severe thunderstorms, damaging hail and flash floods.

Monday’s storm system was so huge it was visible from space, photographed by weather satellites that showed tumultuous clouds arcing across much of the South. The National Weather Service posted tornado watches and warnings around Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia that were in effect through Monday night.

The system is the latest onslaught of severe weather a day after a half-mile-wide tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction through the suburbs of Little Rock, Ark., killing at least 15. Tornadoes also killed one person each in Oklahoma and Iowa on Sunday.

Mississippi Republican Sen. Giles Ward huddled in a bathroom with his wife, four other family members and their 19-year-old dog Monday as a tornado destroyed his two-story brick house and flipped his son-in-law’s SUV upside down onto the patio in Louisville, seat of Winston County and home to about 6,600 .

“For about 30 seconds, it was unbelievable,” Ward said. “It’s about as awful as anything we’ve gone through.”

He estimated that 30 houses in his neighborhood, Jordan Circle, were either destroyed or heavily damaged. After the storm had passed, Ward and his family went to a neighbor’s home where 19 people had waited out the tornado in a basement.

He said six people were reported trapped in a basement in another home in the subdivision.

Altogether, 45 people had been injured in Louisville but no deaths had been reported, said Jack Mazurak, a spokesman for the Jackson-based University of Mississippi Medical Center, designated communications command post for disasters.

The tornado in Louisville caused water damage and left holes in the roof in the back of the Winston Medical Center, where the emergency room and outpatient clinic are located. There were about 15 patients in hospital rooms and eight or nine in the emergency room, where evacuations were underway, Mazurak said.

No deaths were reported.

“We thought we were going to be OK then a guy came in and said, ‘It’s here right now,’” said Dr. Michael Henry, head of the emergency room. “Then boom … it blew through.”

Also in Mississippi, Lee County Coroner Carolyn Gillentine Green said a woman died in a traffic accident during the storm in Verona, south of Tupelo. Green said the vehicle may have hydroplaned or blown off the road.

Deborah Pugh, spokeswoman for the Northeast Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, said the hospital received 24 patients.

She was 20 had minor injuries and were expected to be treated and released. She four others were undergoing further evaluation.

In Tupelo, every building in a two-block area south of U.S. Highway 78 had suffered damage, officials told a reporter on the scene.

Some buildings had their roofs sheared off, while power lines had been knocked down completely or bent at 45-degree angles. Road crews were using heavy machinery to clear off other streets.