At Least 6 Dead After Tornadoes, Storms Tear Through Mississippi
By Ron Brackett and Jan Wesner Childs
- At least 6 people were killed in Mississippi.
- A tornado hit Monroe, Louisiana, late Sunday morning.
- Dozens of trees sheared off in the storm blocked Interstate 20 near Arcadia, Louisiana.
- Damage was reported in Kingston, Louisiana.
At least six people are dead in Mississippi as severe weather and strong tornadoes moved across the Deep South on Easter Sunday.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency confirmed three fatalities in Jefferson Davis County, where a tornado struck the down of Bassfield. There was also one death in Walthall County and two fatalities in Lawrence County.
Tornadoes were reported in both those counties as well. At least five homes were destroyed in Walthall County and other injuries were reported.
All three counties are south of Jackson, near the Louisiana state line.Rescue crews were searching homes in Jones County, where damage was reported to multiple homes and commercial buildings. Paul Sheffield, the county’s emergency management director, told weather.com in a phone interview that several people were injured, some seriously. Sheffield said four people were unaccounted for.
Misssissippi Gove Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency Sunday night.
“This is not how anyone wants to celebrate Easter Sunday,” Reeves said.
Huge, destructive tornado in Soso, MS just now @WXgage
Tornado damage west of Birmingham from tornado .
Earlier, damaging storms and possible tornadoes destroyed homes and businesses, toppled trees and knocked out electricity across several areas of Louisiana as a widespread outbreak of severe storms swept across .
About 300 homes were damaged or destroyed in Monroe, Louisiana, police Sgt. Chuck Johnson told The Weather Channel. The city was working to secure about 200 hotel rooms to shelter families who were displaced. They were trying to avoid housing large numbers of people in one place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The images and reports of major tornado damage in the Monroe area are heartbreaking, and my prayers are with the people there. We are in contact with local officials in the area to provide support,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Twitter. “I hope all of Louisiana is on high alert right now.”
There were no immediate reports of major injuries.
“By the grace of God, early reports show only a few minor injuries. Pray for our city! Many neighbors & friends suffered catastrophic damage. We are hurting; but not broken. Times like this remind us WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER! Together we we will rebuild.“ – Mayor Jamie Mayo
Nearly 36,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana were without electricity as of 5:18 p.m. CDT, according to PowerOutage.us. More than 20,000 customers in Mississippi had no power, and more than 23,000 homes and businesses in Alabama were left without electricity.
In Mississippi, tornado warnings were issued about 2 p.m. CDT for Yazoo City, Eden, Benton, Kosciusko, Durant and Lexington. Jack Willingham, the Yazoo County emergency management director, told WLBT that a tornado touched down just north of Yazoo City. Falling trees knocked down power lines and one vacant structure was damaged, according to WLBT.
Damage was much heavier in Louisiana. The National Weather Service declared a tornado emergency for Monroe in Ouachita Parish at 11:44 a.m. CDT. Doppler radar confirmed a large and destructive tornado was hitting parts of the city.
At least 20 homes were damaged in the Sunflower Subdivision of Monroe, according to a local media report to the National Weather Service.
A video on Facebook showed extensive damage in a subdivision. As a family walks out of a destroyed home, the video showed the front of the house had been ripped away and the living room and dining room were exposed to the rain.
The city of Monroe Twitter account said, “We have reports of wind (or tornado) damage in multiple locations in Monroe.” The city also posted photos of damage.City of Monroe
Downed power lines on portions Millhaven road @CityofMonroe PLEASE STAY OFF THIS ROAD until repair crews give an all clear
Images on social media showed several damaged planes and buildings ripped apart at Monroe Regional Airport.
Ron Phillips, director of the airport, said all flights were canceled until further notice. A hangar owned by AVFlight was heavily damaged, Phillips told the News Star, and he estimated there was $25 to $30 million worth of damage to the planes there.
Two semitractor-trailers reportedly blew over on Interstate 20 near U.S. Highway 165.
Across the Ouachita River in West Monroe, Mayor Staci Albritton Mitchell told the New Star that houses in her city “have been leveled.” She also said police safely rescued some people from their homes after they were trapped by falling trees.
About 45 miles west of Monroe, dozens of trees sheared off in the story blocked eastbound Interstate 20, according to KSLA.
The Shreveport Times said the NWS reported tornadoes in four parishes earlier Sunday: Lincoln, Bienville, DeSoto and Webster parishes.
Storm damage in Kingston, LA
Mark Pierce, a spokesman for the Desoto Parish Sheriff’s Office, told weather.com that multiple trees and power lines were down in Kingston and surrounding areas, and a few mobile homes were hit. A large tree was blocking U.S. Highway 84 heading into Mansfield.
“We’ve had some pretty significant damage,” Pierce said.
He said the sheriff and road crews were still out assessing the impacts, but there had not been any reports of injuries.
This is breaking news and more information will be provided as it becomes available. Check back to weather.com for updates.