Tornadoes in Mississippi Take 10 Lives; 700 Homes, Many Uninsured, Destroyed

April 27, 2010

Tornadoes that killed 10 people in Mississippi destroyed at least 700 homes and did tens of millions of dollars in damage, state authorities said Monday.

Homeowners and local authorities began a clean-up operation in some of the state’s central counties Monday, two days after the worst storm in the southern state in years, which also left two dead in northern Alabama.

Shopping centers, cars and farm buildings were destroyed and insurance estimates would likely be “a lot more” than $50 million, said state insurance commissioner Mike Chaney, who gave an initial estimate after touring the area by helicopter.

“What we saw on the ground was miles of destruction. The tornado never left the ground. It meandered like a snake,” Chaney said.

Ninety percent of homes in Yazoo County, the worst affected, were insured but 90 percent of homes in nearby Holmes County, which was also struck, lacked insurance, Chaney said.

State Farm insurance said it had received 750 claims on auto and home damage so far in Mississippi and Alabama, said company spokesman David Majors.

“There’s a lot of hidden damage, like broken rafters,” said Sandra Grayson, a retired teacher in Yazoo City who estimated her own insurance claim would run to thousands of dollars. “I’ll have to have the roof replaced and the ceiling has water damage.”

Mississippi governor Haley Barbour has applied for federal funds for the disaster.

(Additional reporting by Peggy Gargis in Birmingham, writing by Matthew Bigg, editing by Todd Eastham)

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