19 businesses heavily damage or destroyed in Richland - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

19 businesses heavily damage or destroyed in Richland

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RICHLAND, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Auto Glass Now Regional Manager John Ketchum says he was in Shreveport, Louisiana when the tornado swept across Richland and destroyed the store there.

"As soon as the alarms went off I told (the employees) to go. 20 minutes later this is what we had. It was very close," he says.

One employee had just left the building on Highway 49 Monday before the tornado hit. She had moved some vehicles into the building, trying to protect them from the stormy weather.

But the cars and trucks will have to be hauled off, along with the rest of the structure, which was literally shredded by the twisting winds.

"I actually was very fortunate and found another location immediately, so these people have somewhere to work," Ketchum tells us.

From the air and from the ground, it's apparent that the destruction in Richland is widespread. For the most part the damage is limited to commercial buildings along Highway 49, Old 49, and a few side roads.

No one was hurt at the businesses where we stopped, like TCI Tire Centers.

"This is our commercial store, it's totally lost, basically so we are moving everything to our cab shop to try to service our customers," says Assistant Manager Joe Raby.

The business's Michelin sign flew off, and onto the property of the Fleetpride building next door. The damage at Fleetpride is beyond repair. Owners were talking to an insurance adjuster Tuesday morning.

Richland Police Chief Russel James says power lines are still down, creating dangerous areas. He's asking motorists to use caution, and not to slow down.

"They want to go out there and get a first hand look at it. We'd like to encourage them to keep moving. Don't slow down on the Highway. That causes major congestion in traffic and we had traffic backed up south of Florence this morning," he says.

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