May 23, 2015
Survivors are telling of harrowing encounters with the tornado that struck Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Sunday -- injuring more than 60 people but causing no fatalities.
One man says he ran from his car and lay face-down in the grass next to the wall of a church as the tornado raced toward him. Jeff Revette says 20 seconds later, bricks were strewn across a flattened pickup truck 10 feet away, amid toppled trees and power lines. A woman who had been driving the pickup and had taken cover near him was pinned by some insulation and other debris, but she was OK.
Officials say several factors helped ensure that no lives were lost. For one thing, residents had as much as 30 minutes of warning from sirens and TV broadcasts. Most businesses were closed because it was a Sunday. The University of Southern Mississippi was emptier than usual because of Mardi Gras.
About 200 homes and mobile homes were damaged or destroyed. Rain fell today as people tried to put tarps over leaky roofs and move belongings to dry ground.
One man was trying to find a way to shut off a broken pipe filling his house with water. A massive pine tree had split the home nearly in two. John Cline was taking shelter in a hallway closet at the time, and says the tree landed about 3 feet to his right.