Tornado clean-up starts in Hattiesburg, Petal

The clean-up from Sunday’s tornado in Hattiesburg and Petal started Monday morning.

The storm hit during mid-afternoon, caused extensive damage to residential areas and business districts and to the campus of University of Southern Mississippi.

Almost 100 injuries had been reported, but no deaths. More than 300 buildings had some degree of damage, a lot of it major, according to emergency officials.

Mississippi Power Co. said as of Monday morning, 4,000 of its customers were without electricity, and 100 power poles were broken.

In a news release, Mississippi Power Pine Belt division manager Jason Lee said at its peak Sunday, 13,000 customers had no power. More than 300 of the company’s linemen, engineers and tree-removal crews were on the ground.

“We are working on the hardest hit areas first,” Lee said, “which has been challenging due to the continuous rain, wind and scattered debris blocking access to troubled areas.”

Monday’s forecast for the Hattiesburg area called for rain to continue through most of the daylight hours.

The Salvation Army also started setting up feeding and relief stations in Petal and Hattiesburg.

Six mobile units were active by 11 a.m. Monday:

* Petal Harvey Baptist Church

* The Highway 49/Hardy Street intersection

* Forrest County Multi-purpose Center

* A roving unit in Oak Grove

* Lowe’s parking lot on Hardy Street

* Residential areas east of the USM campus

Donations are accepted at or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. You can also text “Give” to 80888.

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