Leakesville tornado victims want only grocery store to reopen

LEAKESVILLE, MS (WLOX) - People in Leakesville are frustrated because the only grocery store in the small town is closed. The mega tornado ripped through the community Friday, heavily damaging the neighborhood Piggly Wiggly.

"This is the window where the tornado knocked out the window in my car," resident Althea Hayes said as she pointed to the destruction.

The Leakesville woman said the violent twister left her car in bad shape, so the last thing she wants to do is drive.

"And I don't want to buy groceries in something like this."

But the right now the only major neighborhood grocery store in this small town is temporarily shut down.

"We had an inspection yesterday [Monday] from the Health Department and Department of Agriculture, and they gave us a list of things we have to complete before we can reopen the store," Store Manager Richard Hale said.

Hale said the building has several large holes now, and part of the roof is missing. All the fruit, meat, and frozen foods were also thrown away because of safety concerns.

"If you go back down this aisle, you can see where it is all empty. It is a shame."

Those who are used to taking a quick trip to Piggly Wiggly for food are having to drive out-of-town to Hattiesburg, Lucedale or even Mobile.

"It is very inconvenient with the price of gas. It is 30 miles to the nearest grocery store now," resident Lisa Beckwith said. "So to just load up and go, it takes about $20 for me to go and get groceries."

Christopher and Lynette Landrum are also not happy about the trek for groceries.

"We have to go out there just for bread and milk, and we usually go through a gallon milk and two loaves bread with my boys about every two days," Lynette Landrum said.

"Hope they get it back up where everybody won't have to drive; they can just come here to town to get it. Those gas prices are outrageous," Christopher Landrum said.

Hale hopes to have the store repaired enough to reopen Wednesday, but he can only sell non-perishable food items. He said at least it's a start.

"We have a tremendous amount of walk-in customers, who live close by, who don't have transportation," Hales said. "This only means of groceries is this store, and that is why we need to get it open."

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