Storm downs trees, cuts electricity|’I saw … the black shadow of the tree coming down’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 21, 2010

It wasn’t so much the lightning and thunder that scared Luis Lopez on the way to work in Edwards this morning; it was the tree that fell on his truck.

“I saw the sparks on the pole and the black shadow of the tree coming down,” Lopez said, minutes after his encounter with one of numerous trees downed by severe rains that pelted Warren County overnight.

Lopez, 25, along with his brother, Miguel, 28, uncle Dionicio, 53, and Gilberto Rodriguez, 32, all of Mount Airy, N.C. were on U.S. 80 just east of Bovina at about 6:20 a.m. in a Ford F-350 when the pickup was struck by a tree that also broke a power pole and a water line.

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Luis Lopez said he was able to squeeze himself out of the pickup’s rear window, while the others escaped through the doors. The men weren’t injured, but “wouldn’t be making it to work today,” Lopez said.

After an afternoon downpour, an even more terrific thunder and lightning show hit most of Warren County at about 9:30 p.m. and continued until after midnight.

In all, nine wrecks were reported to Vicksburg Warren E-911 between 6 p.m. and 8:30 a.m., director Nicole Vera said. None involved injuries.

U.S. 80 was one of 21 roads blocked by trees and other debris between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., Sheriff Martin Pace said. The highway was reopened at midmorning, but Fisher Ferry Road near Berachah Baptist Church, where another tree fell across the road, was reduced to one lane. The hill to Culkin Road from U.S. 61 North remained closed this morning after a tree fell across power lines there.

The Vicksburg Water Treatment Plant reported 2.46 inches of rain in the 24 hours ending at 6 a.m. today.

About 500 customers countywide remained without power at mid-morning. The peak for Entergy, which serves most of the area, was about 1,200 customers without power just before midnight, Entergy spokesman Don Arnold said. Most were south of Interstate 20. Crews were being called in from Clinton and Jackson to help restore service, Arnold said.

About 10 customers in the Culkin Water District were without water service because of the line break near 80 and another near Boy Scout Road, general manager John Gunn said. Some customers were being asked to boil drinking water, Gunn said.

Minor flash flooding was reported before dawn along Pemberton Square Boulevard, Paxton Road and Old Highway 27, and parts of the 4800 block of Halls Ferry Road had standing water overnight, Pace said.

“Those are areas that flood during heavy rains, but it drains off fairly quickly,” Pace said.

Vicksburg Public Works Director Bubba Rainer said his department was “assessing what we have” in the way of drainage issues and obstructions in the road. A sewer cover on Farmer Street was reported open as the rain began Wednesday, and parts of the road at Cherry and Jackson streets buckled, Rainer said.

“Most of what we’ve seen is a lot of mud in the streets,” Rainer said.

Warren County road crews worked on small mudslides “all over the place,” road manager Richard Winans said, including on 80, Redbone, Burnt House and Jeffers Hollow roads. “None are of significant size.”

The National Weather Service forecast Vicksburg’s rain chances at zero until Saturday when chances are put at 60 percent.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at