Area dodges severe damage, three tornadoes

Published 8:05 am Sunday, April 30, 2017

Vicksburg and Warren County avoided serious damage as the leading edge of a low pressure area pushed through the area early Sunday morning with heavy rain, high winds and three reported tornadoes.

“We dodged another one,” Warren County emergency management director John Elfer said.

He said the area went through three tornado warnings as the system moved across Louisiana and into Warren County. He said the area had a few downed trees and no structural damage except an overturned shed on Oak Street.

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The storm, however, knocked out power to residents in downtown Vicksburg, North Washington from Main Street to U.S. 61 North, Chickasaw Road and Long Lake Road.

At its height, the outage put 3,120 people in the dark. As of noon, 1,180 people were without power.

Elfer said National Service Weather Service radar showed rotation in three areas of the county.

“Each had a debris signature, meaning each one touched down somewhere. One was in Delta (La.), and came into the area around the Yazoo (diversion canal) and Kings. Another was (Mississippi) 27 South in Claiborne County that went into southeast Warren County and then into Hinds County.

The third was in Flowers at I-20 that went into northeast Warren County and then into southeast Yazoo County.”

“I heard that train sound,” said Willie Rankin, who lives on Hutson Street in Kings. “It came right through here and they that way (pointing to a downed tree on the west side of Hutson).”

He said the storm hit about 7 a.m. his mobile home did not move during the storm. “It was secured good and God was watching over us,” he said. “I told my wife, ‘We’ve got no place to go, so we might as well hold on and pray to God.”

The winds also caused severe damage to the city’s water treatment plant on Haining Road, knocking out power to the city’s well field. Mayor George Flaggs Jr. Sunday morning asked water customers to restrict their water use for six hours to allow crews to make repairs.

“Entergy has come and made their assessment, and the plat is operating off a generator,” he said. “The water tanks are not empty, but we are working with only one well.”

Besides the wind damage, the storm caused mud slides on North Washington Street and in Kings, and a rain-swollen drainage ditch pushed mud and debris, including logs on Hutson Street and the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks.

“It just came over the banks and threw all that junk on the bridge and the road,” said Michael King, who lives by the ditch. He said he did not hear the tornado when it passed, “Because the rain was so loud on my roof. The wind and the rain hit about the same time.”

The slide and the flooding, Elfer said, caused forced city officials to close North Washington Street to commercial traffic and Kansas City Southern to shut down operations until the tracks were cleared.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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