Leakesville residents picking up the pieces to ravaged city

LEAKESVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Early morning sirens alerting residents of severe weather went off 30 minutes prior to the tornado that touched down in the City of Leakesville on Friday. According to Leakesville City Administrator Jeff Byrd the sirens kept going off 11 times after the first.

"The tornado touched down at around 7:40 p.m.," Byrd said.

The tornado has left the city in ruins. According to Byrd, of the 98 homes damaged, 23 were completely destroyed, 28 sustained major damage and 47 received minor damage. Five of the 14 businesses that were impacted by the damage were completely destroyed, four had minor damage and five received major damage.

Byrd said one woman died and six people were injured out of a population of approximately 1,100 people.

Now, Byrd said the city is looking at an estimated six to eight weeks of clean up. The Piggly Wiggly, the only grocery store in town, is closed today due storm damage.

According to Byrd the Greene County Vocational Complex was the school that received the most severe damage.

"The community is overall thankful that it wasn't worse than it was," Byrd said.

Byrd added that, according to the path of the storm, there was a greater possibility of more fatalities.

Although the situation could have been much worse and residents are thankful, Byrd said there is still a  feeling of "uncertainty."

Currently, Byrd said 80 percent of power has been restored in town. However, Byrd said he is not sure about power being restored in rural areas.

First responders and church groups from neighboring cities have been helping with relief efforts. The Leakesville Community Center is serving as a shelter.

According to an official statement made by the Mississippi Emergency Management Authority homes and businesses in Greene, Hinds and Kemper counties from Friday's storm will be reviewed by the joint teams consisting of MEMA, local officials, the U.S. Small Business Administration and FEMA.

Shelters are also open for displaced residents in Kemper County at the Farmer's Market in DeKalb.

For information on how you can help click on the American Red Cross.

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