The initial tornado damage assessment of the University of Southern Mississippi is better than what university officials expected. "The great majority of the campus is just fine," USM administrator Joe Paul told the media this morning. "It could have been much, much worse."
The university's front door area near Hardy Street sustained most of the tornado damage. At least six campus buildings have some sort of tornado damage. "We've still go work to do to make sure the grounds are safe," said Paul.
According to Gov. Phil Bryant, 63 people went to the hospital after the tornado cut a 75 mile path through Marion, Forrest and Lamar Counties. "I'm honored and proud to say there are no known fatalities," the governor said.
About 200 homes sustained storm damage. So did 100 apartments. At the height of the storm, 13,339 people lost power. That number was down to 4,300 at the time of the 9:45 am news conference.
Governor Bryant issued a State of Emergency for Forrest, Lamar, Lawrence and Marion due to the impacts of severe storms and tornadoes.
"As local and state officials work together to assess the damages, this State of Emergency will help expedite the support needed," Gov. Bryant said.
Buildings at the Hattiesburg campus of the University of Southern Mississippi were damaged. The USM police department also issued a State of Emergency for that campus.
USM's web page states: Damage has been confirmed to Jazz Station, Mannoni Performing Arts Center, Ogletree Alumni House and Elam Arms, which is vacant. Please avoid those areas of campus. Electricity is available on the Freshman Quad area of campus.
"There are plenty of residential gas leaks, but we are shutting them down as we get them. There are plenty of down trees, debris and road closures," Hopkins explained.
Authorities suggest Hattiesburg residents avoid lighting candles or cigarettes because of those gas leaks.
Two shelters in Forrest County are open:
Forrest County Community shelter on Sullivan Drive by the Multipurpose Center.
Civic Center in Petal located on Main Street.
"We are working with law enforcement to get people in these shelters," Hopkins said.
There are also reports of several power outages in Forrest County. Hardy Street in Hattiesburg is blocked at 31st Street. Motorists should avoid Hardy Street.
According to the American Red Cross Mississippi Region, the American Red Cross is responding to damage in multiple counties. They are working with local emergency management agencies in Lamar and Forrest counties to assist with sheltering for those affected by possible tornadic activity.
Red Cross officials also said, reports indicate more than 50 families may need to seek refuge in Forrest County's shelters.
"The Red Cross operates under a regional structure and shares resources in multiple offices and facilities throughout Mississippi for expanded service delivery," said Joshua Joachim, Chief Operations Officer for the American Red Cross Mississippi Region. "Although we have confirmed substantial damage to our Red Cross office in Hattiesburg rendering it inoperable, we are pulling resources from our other locations and will continue to meet the disaster-caused needs of those affected by tonight's storms." Additionally, no staff or volunteers were injured.
To make contributions call 1-800-RED CROSS, donate online at www.mississippi-redcross.org, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation; charges will be applied to the cell phone bill.
WLOX-TV, WLOX.com or the WLOX App and WLOX Weather App will keep you updated on the latest storm damage information.
Sunday, March 9 2014 1:16 PM EDT2014-03-09 17:16:55 GMT
The Madison County Sheriff's Department will hold a press conference today in regards to the missing two-year-old, Myra Lewis. The press conference was originally scheduled for Saturday, but it was postponed. TheMore >>
The press conference was originally scheduled for Saturday, but it was postponed.More >>
Friday, March 7 2014 10:08 PM EST2014-03-08 03:08:29 GMT
The search for 2-year-old Myra Lewis has ended for tonight, and in a day filled with lots of activity, there's still a lot we don't know. Lewis has been missing since last Saturday. Authorities closedMore >>
The search for 2-year-old Myra Lewis has ended for tonight, and in a day filled with lots of activity, there's still a lot we don't know. Lewis has been missing since last Saturday.More >>
Friday, March 7 2014 7:50 PM EST2014-03-08 00:50:40 GMT
Myra was last seen on Saturday at 10 am at her home in Camden. She was wearing a turquoise sweater with a bear on the front and khaki pants. More >>
Law Enforcement officers are preparing to extend their search for 2-year-old Myra Lewis into the night. Portable lights have been brought into the area, but still no official word on what they're planning next.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:06 PM EST2014-03-09 02:06:35 GMT
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba's Celebration of Life service is under way at the Jackson Convention Center. The service is expected to last more than three hours. You can watch it live here. Afterward theMore >>
There were tears, prayers, songs, African culture and laughter at Saturday's Celebration of Life for late Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 12:44 AM EST2014-03-09 05:44:53 GMT
The search for 2-year-old Myra Lewis continued Saturday. Heath Hall with the Madison County Sheriff's Department said a press conference will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday. The search for the toddler willMore >>
The mother of 2-year-old Myra Lewis has been arrested, but it has nothing to do with her daughter's disappearance.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 9:29 AM EST2014-03-06 14:29:24 GMT
A South Carolina woman who drove her mini-van into the ocean at Daytona Beach with her three kids inside is from Cross in Berkeley County, according to authorities in Florida. Police say they interviewedMore >>
A South Carolina woman who drove her mini-van into the ocean at Daytona Beach with her three kids inside is from Cross in Berkeley County, according to authorities in Florida. Police say they interviewed her two hours before the Tuesday afternoon incident but the woman was released because she showed no signs of being suicidal.More >>
Friday, March 7 2014 11:37 AM EST2014-03-07 16:37:57 GMT
We've all heard the buzz after Kenneth Stokes claimed that Mayor Chokwe Lumumba was murdered, but he isn't the only one who thinks this is possible. Minister Louis Farrakhan spoke in front of a largeMore >>
Minister Louis Farrakhan spoke on the death of Jackson's late mayor. According to him, Lumumba probably didn't die of natural causes.More >>
Vietnamese authorities searching waters for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner spotted an object Sunday that they suspected was one of the plane's doors, as international intelligence agencies joined the...More >>
Vietnamese aircraft spotted what they suspected was one of the doors of a missing Boeing 777 on Sunday, while questions emerged about how two passengers managed to board the ill-fated aircraft using stolen passports.More >>
Friday, March 7 2014 12:25 PM EST2014-03-07 17:25:13 GMT
For one teenager, homelessness is his reality but not his label. Hard work. Struggle. Power. Kendal Benjamin, 17, spends many afternoons in the weight room at C.A. Johnson High School. The graduatingMore >>
Kendal Benjamin, 17, spends many afternoons in the weight room at C.A. Johnson High School. The graduating senior plays football, track and wants to study athletic training in college. He comes to school every day, and many around him don't know what it's like when he goes home at night.More >>