Families in the Montpelier area are still in a state of disbelief from Wednesday’s early morning tornado that touched down in the area, causing major damage to dozens of homes there.
According to emergency officials, the tornado whipped through Montpelier in the western portion of Clay County, around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, snapping trees in half, shattering windows of several homes, knocking power lines to the ground and ripping shingles off of several rooftops. The storm also sent huge chunks of debris flying rapidly through the air, some of which caused further damage to homes that were already hit hard by the storm.
District 5 supervisor Floyd McKee said that six homes on Dixie Road were completely destroyed in the tornado, but “it’s just a blessing that no one was killed.”
Homeowners in Montpelier as well as their family and friends spent much of the day Wednesday removing as much of the debris away from their homes as they could, but the damage is so severe at many homes that it will likely take days, even weeks, to completely clear away the wreckage.
Connie Murray, whose residence at 18515 Highway 46 received roof damage, said the extent of the tornado took her by surprise.
“I've never seen anything like this. I'm just devastated,” Murray said. “It was so fast, and that's the thing that got me the most. At 2:30 a.m. the electricity went out; 10 minutes later, all of this was here, so it did not last very long. We got in the bathroom just in time.”
Workers at Prestage Farms, where Murray’s husband, Jim Murray, works, came out and put a tarp on roof in anticipation of a second strong storm coming later in the day Wednesday. Murray said she was told that it could be three days before power is restored to homes in Montpelier.
The home of Odie White on Highway 46 suffered extreme damage to the windows, roof and the side of the home. She said tin and pieces of her neighbor’s two barns flew across the street into her yard, where she worked with family members for much of the day Wednesday. White said when she heard the storm coming, she had to act quickly.
“I didn't have time to think,” White said. “I was trying to get my husband in the closet. I heard it roar, and I said, 'Get in the closet!’ But, thankfully, no one was hurt in all of this.”
The National Weather Service in Jackson could not classify the tornado as of 2 p.m. Wednesday since meteorologists had not yet assessed the damage. Meteorologists with the NWS said the damage may be assessed Thursday, and a classification may be given then. Officials did say that the tornado hit over a mile and a half of land in Montpelier.
Kerrie Gentry, deputy director of the West Point/Clay County Emergency Management, said as of Wednesday, the total number of homes affected by the storm is unknown, but emergency crews are doing a full damage assessment this morning. Roads with reports to 911 of home, vehicle and other damage is as follows: Hoss Johnson Road, Jerry Davis Road, Highway 46, Palestine Road, Colony Road, Dixie Road, Clay/Chickasaw Road. Una Brand Road, Gilreth Road, Fire Tower Road. Highway 389, Highway 47, Hill Circle, Highway 50, Joe Stevens Road, Enon Road. George Road, Davis Road, Pine Bluff Road, Walker Sanders Road and Jamison Road.
District 3 supervisor R.B. Davis said it’s devastating to see the aftermath of the storm in Montpelier, but is hoping that families will begin recovering quickly with disaster relief and assistance from different resources. Davis said District 3 work crews as well as city workers, the Clay County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies cleared away broken tree limbs and other debris that covered the roads in a timely manner.
McKee said he is thankful that District 1 and District 2 were there to assist District 3 in clean up efforts and is also thankful for work crews from Jackson, Oktibbeha County and the Mississippi Department of Transportation for their assistance.
“It’s just unreal how they’re all working together to clear these roads and help these people get back on their feet,” McKee said.