Powerful Storms Leave Thousands of Mississippians without Power

April 7, 2008

Authorities say thousands of people were left in the dark after powerful storms with strong winds, heavy rain, hail and possible tornadoes tore across Mississippi late last week.

At least 92,000 customers of Entergy Mississippi were without power on April 4 said company spokesman Checky Herrington.

Herrington said the company brought workers in from other states to help, but it will likely be Monday before power is restored to all of Entergy’s customers.

“We have more than 100 poles down, we have spans of wire on the ground. It was a very, very significant blow to our system,” Herrington said.

Most of the outages were in and around Jackson but there were also some in other areas, including Vicksburg on the Mississippi River and Cleveland in the Delta.

Ambulances took more than 20 people to Jackson-area hospitals April 4 as the storms pounded the area.

Jim Pollard, a spokesman for American Medical Response ambulance service, which serves a number of counties in the Jackson area, said ambulance crews responded to at least 75 emergency calls “from all over” the Jackson area. There was no immediate information about the injuries.

After the fast-moving storms passed, Mississippians began assessing damages and clearing fallen trees from roads and homes, especially in northeast Jackson and in the Madison, Ridgeland and Canton areas. Similar damage was reported across Rankin County, including the Pearl and Brandon areas and along U.S. Highway 49, and to the east in Morton and Forest in Scott County.

Tate Moudy of Brandon had just walked into the Southern States Utility Trailer Sales office on U.S. Highway 49 in Richland after showing a trailer to a customer when “there was a big bang from a transformer being knocked out and debris started flying through the front door.”

Moudy said the powerful storm overturned new and used 18-wheeler trailers parked outside the business, damaged the sales office and ripped away part of the roof and twisted beams in the office.

He said employees and others had to remain inside because power lines had fallen across vehicles parked in the lot.

“It was scary, I can tell you that,” he said.

Charles Ware of Canton told The Clarion-Ledger newspaper that he was in his car outside a Home Depot in north Jackson when storm winds smashed the window of his car and tossed around shopping carts.

“The whole thing was like being in a silent movie,” he said. “Your adrenaline is flowing so much you can see all this stuff but you don’t hear anything.”

Lea Stokes, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said there were damage reports from the Bolton, Raymond and Clinton areas, as well as Yazoo, Newton, Leake and Lauderdale counties.

A particularly strong storm damaged homes and toppled trees in the Ross Barnett Reservoir area northeast of the capital city.

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