Some MS tornado victims face uncertain future

HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - The initial shock is wearing off, but some South Mississippi tornado victims said the reality of how much they've lost and uncertainty of how they'll rebuild are just starting to set in. Since a tornado tore through Lamar and Forrest counties, some people have started picking up the pieces. But others say they're overwhelmed and have no idea how they'll start over.

"It's a lot of memories you know. But we've just got to move forward with that," Antuawn McNair said.

The McNairs thank God for sparing their lives.

"The roof had lifted up a little bit and then it came back down," said McNair. "My auntie and her daughter were on the couch. It almost lifted them up. The whole top had came off, but luckily my friend had grabbed them. We all went in the room and I just started slinging everybody in the closet."

A street over there is more destruction. Vettia Roche's family rode out the tornado in the bathroom of their mobile home.

"I looked out the door," said Roche. "I'm looking in the sky just seeing stuff swirling in the sky thinking of the scene from the Wizard of Oz. I just yelled out loud 'It's a tornado. Get in the bathroom.'"

All Roche's furniture is water damaged and unsalvageable. She said she doesn't have enough money to wash the family's clothes at a laundromat so they can have something to wear.

"I know this stuff is replaceable but the thing is it's hard to replace it all," Roche said. "Very hard especially when you're starting from having no finances even worth looking at. Part time job. Fifteen hours a week. Nobody can live off that."

The McNairs are staying in a hotel for now, but said their landlord is letting them move into a vacant, undamaged apartment.  Roche isn't so lucky.

"Right now I'm staying with somebody who already had took in somebody. Their house is already full," said Roche. "Now with the four of us in there it's, like, packed. I don't have family here because I'm not from here, so it's pretty bad."

The McNairs said their children attend school in Oak Grove and the school district has said it will provide replacement uniforms for the children, so they are very grateful for that.

Residents of a Hattiesburg subdivision are wondering if their close knit neighborhood will ever be the same. People in Summerchase Townhomes spent Thursday trying to clean up and salvage their belongings. Residents said the 32 units of individually owned condos.

Since there are several connected units in each building and some units were destroyed, homeowners are concerned Summerchase may not bounce back.

"We don't know what's going to become of it. A lot of people have total losses," said Jean Fedoroff, former Homeowners Association President. "We don't know what they're going to determine as far as being able to rebuild or not rebuild. We have a lot of retired people, older people. Families may insist that they live with them. So we don't know what's going to become of the subdivision."

The homeowners said one person was trapped in the rubble after the tornado, but neighbors worked together to dig the person out.

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