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Trees downed, houses damaged, Alcorn student killed in wreck during Thursday’s storms

 

NATCHEZ — A strong line of thunderstorms, including two confirmed tornadoes, ripped through the Miss-Lou early Thursday morning leaving damaged houses, downed trees and shaken residents in its wake.

The storms claimed the life of at least one Mississippian, Alcorn State University student Jayla A. Gray, 19, of Jackson, who died early Thursday morning when the car in which she was a passenger struck a tree that had fallen across a highway near Port Gibson, the Associated Press reported.

The Department of Public Safety told the AP the driver and another passenger escaped injury, and spokesman Kervin Stewart said the three were returning to campus after a Halloween party and early morning meal; Gray was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the wreck.

Troopers said weather was a factor in the wreck, which happened just minutes after a storm toppled trees near Kevin Bryant’s mobile home a few miles away in Port Gibson, the AP reported.

In Natchez, power was out most of the day to more than 4,000 Entergy customers mostly in the Morgantown area and northern sections of the city of Natchez and others in Concordia Parish, forcing the Natchez-Adams School District to cancel classes Thursday and today.

Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies early Thursday morning, Sheriff Travis Patten said, had to rescue a child from a house on Magnolia Avenue that had a tree fall onto it, trapping the child in the child’s bedroom.

The child was later taken to the hospital by ambulance and an update on the child’s condition was not available late Thursday.

Morgantown residents described an evening of terror and shock as storms and high winds passed across the area early Thursday morning, downing trees, power lines and rooftops.

Entergy Customer Service Manager Tim Runnels said most of Thursday’s power outages in Natchez were from College Street to Stiers Lane, along Martin Luther King Jr. Street and all of Morgantown Road with a few scattered outages in Adams County along U.S. 61 North.

“There are a couple rooftops that have blown off and trees and power lines down all over,” Runnels said.

Runnels said 4,186 customers were without power Thursday, and Entergy had approximately 15 workers scouting for damages Thursday morning, and a crew of approximately 77 people working on repairs with more from outside the city coming to help.

“It’s hard to say how long it will take to completely restore power,” Runnels said Thursday afternoon. “Right now we’re in the identifying mode to see what repairs are needed.”

By late Thursday power had been restored to the majority of the affected areas though a few hundred customers were still out.

Runnels said one of the city’s water wells was still running off a generator, and that it was important that power be restored as soon as possible.

Runnels said people should exercise caution around any loose wires or downed poles and to notify the company if any damages are spotted.

“If you do come across a wire that is down, do not touch it,” he said. “Notify your utility company and stay away. We don’t want anyone getting hurt by this storm.

Concordia Parish emergency officials responded to a report of extensive damage to residences near Loop Road in Concordia Parish near Jonesville.

At approximately 1:45 a.m., Northeast Louisiana Ambulance Service, along with the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office, Concordia Parish Fire District No. 2 and other emergency personnel responded to a residence in northwestern Concordia Parish reporting injuries and extensive structure damage.

Upon their arrival, officials discovered significant damage to two singlewide mobile home units. One unit was no longer secured to the ground following the storm. The second unit, which was occupied, was flipped over. Four patients, including minors, were transported to an area hospital for treatment. Their injuries appeared to be minor and not life threatening.

The National Weather Service in Jackson had issued a tornado warning for the Miss-Lou hours before the storm hit and the warning was active at the time of the incident.

Northeast Louisiana Ambulance Service officials said they did not receive any other storm-related calls from the area, which includes all of Richland, Franklin, Catahoula, Madison and Tensas parishes.

Meteorologist Mike Edmondston said a National Weather Service team visited Adams County Thursday morning to assess the damage in Natchez and the surrounding areas.

“There will be confirmed tornado damage,” Edmondston said Thursday afternoon, “though we don’t have all of the information yet.”

Strong storms moved across Concordia Parish and Adams County early Thursday morning when National Weather Service radar indicated the possibility of a tornado in the area. Tornado warnings were issued as a result.

Edmonston said National Weather Service investigators were expected to file a full report of the storm’s path and the resulting damage later Thursday evening.

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