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"I saw houses flying everywhere": The heartbreaking stories of survival after the tornado in Mississippi

2023-03-26T13:18:05.495Z


Total destruction followed the tornado that killed at least 25 people in Mississippi and one in Alabama. “It lasted about three minutes, but it was the longest three minutes I've ever lived,” recounted one of the survivors.


By Michael Goldberg and Claire Rush -

The Associated Press

Nothing remains of William Barnes' home after a devastating tornado ripped it from its foundations in the small western Mississippi town of Silver City.

Barnes gazed in disbelief Saturday at the land he has lived on for 20 years, with piled concrete blocks and strewn shredded wood where his home once stood.

“We lost everything, but we made it out alive,” she said with her granddaughter in her arms.

The stories are similar throughout the city of just over 200, located about 60 miles (about 97 kilometers) northwest of Jackson, the state capital.

Devastating accounts of total destruction, survival and tragic deaths followed Friday's tornado that killed at least 25 people in Mississippi and one in Alabama as it moved nearly 170 miles (274 kilometers).

A van crashed inside a restaurant in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.

Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Residents sat on folding chairs in front of the mud-spattered ruins of their family homes, as people drove up in all-terrain vehicles and golf carts to distribute water bottles.

There was a line of cars of first responders and family members parked on the road who arrived to help with the cleanup and rescue efforts.

The remnants of the storm and memories of its ferocity were everywhere.

A Shrek character toy lay facedown in the dirt next to a heap of branches and broken

plywood

, not far from a smashed refrigerator with the back ripped off.

Branches from several downed trees blocked a school bus.

A bicycle remained lying on what was one of the walls that supported a house.

Lakeisha Clincy, Yaclyn James and Shaquetin Burnett were just returning home from spending the night in the nearby town of Belzoni when the tornado struck.

Parking in the driveway, they opened the car doors, but it was too late.

“I saw houses flying everywhere,” Burnett recounted.

"The house on the corner was spinning."

[Mississippi decrees a state of emergency after 25 people die in tornadoes]

“It lasted about three minutes, but it was the longest three minutes I've ever lived

,” Clincy recounted.

"I will never forget".

When they got out of the vehicle they found their house destroyed.

Authorities later took them by bus to a hotel, where they managed to fall asleep shortly after 4:00 am.

Christin George explained that her parents and grandmother narrowly escaped after the tornado blew out their windows and tore off part of the roof of their home.

Her parents took cover behind a door that had not yet been lowered and covered her grandmother with a blanket to protect her from the glass that "shot out down the hall and splashed everyone."

A chain of tornadoes leaves at least 26 dead in Mississippi and Alabama

March 25, 202302:08

"Everything else around him disappeared

," he said, putting his hand to his chest.

"They were lucky.

That's all".

Christine Chinn, who has lived in Silver City her entire life, sought refuge with her husband and son in the hallway, pulling a blanket over herself as they desperately tried to protect themselves.

After the storm, the roof of what was her home for 17 years disappeared and there were overturned vehicles in her garden.

“Everything calmed down, and all of a sudden everything came crashing down, like a big train or something,” he recounted.

Many of his belongings could not be saved.

Chinn was very scared and she said that she had never experienced anything like this.

The same fear gripped residents of Rolling Fork, about 30 miles (about 48 kilometers) away, when the tornado ripped through this town of just under 2,000 people.

[A 911 call warned from the 'death wagon' that migrants were suffocating inside.

Two Hondurans lost their lives]

9-year-old Derrick Brady Jr. tried to cover his 7-year-old sister Kylie Carter with his body as the tornado moved over their home.

He had to get into the tub while his mother clung to the bathroom door, trying to keep it shut.

The boy said that he felt pushed and pulled by the force of the tornado.

"I was afraid, but I was brave," he said.

“We had to say the prayers in our heads.”

Wanda Barfield, the grandmother of Derrick and Kylie, said she roamed the devastated city Friday night and Saturday trying to locate their loved ones.

She called her cell phones, but no one answered.

She found her sister-in-law dead from her in the rubble.

A bus passes through the rubble on Saturday, March 25, 2023, in Silver City, Mississippi.

Michael Goldberg/AP

His family does everything they can to survive, he said.

“Our life is more important than anything else.

You can get a job, money, car, clothes, shoes, ”she assured.

"For me, and for my house, we are going to serve the Lord."

James Hancock was assisting with search and rescue efforts Friday when the storm tore through Rolling Fork.

He was part of a team that forced the opening of a store that community members used to care for the wounded.

It took ambulances two hours to maneuver through the rubble-strewn streets to get there and start treating them, she explained.

As she walked from the ruins of one house to the other, she recounted that she could hear people screaming in the dark.

“You could hear people asking for help and it was just devastating

,” he lamented.

Source: telemundo

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