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Tornado tales — “I bailed out”

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

Magnolia Marketplace will have a package of stories in next week’s MBJ about the latest (and hopefully, the last for a long while) tornado to hit Yazoo City.

Be sure and look for it.

There were some leftovers that didn’t quite fit, so we’d thought we’d pass them along.

Henry Cote, head of the Yazoo County Chamber of Commerce, was in his downtown loft apartment Monday night when the storm hit.

“I’d gotten a call from a business owner down on the fourth block who had an employee by herself, so I went to check on her. I came out on the (store’s) balcony to see if I could hear or see anything, and the pressure pulled me and then the wind started going side to side and I saw glass and metal flying. I bailed out and ran down the street away from it.”

Cote stood on Main Street while he relayed his story to Magnolia Marketplace Tuesday morning around 10. He looked tired, for good reason. He said he hadn’t slept since Monday morning.

Susan Cartwright-Guion, who owns Grace Hardware, was at her home across town from Main Street when the twister arrived. Her two children were at school- and church-related activities. All escaped without injury.

Cartwright-Guion’s home was in one of the neighborhoods that got nailed by April’s storm. It fared much better this time around.

“I never thought about the store getting hit until I got a text saying that downtown had been hit,” she said.

After receiving the text, Cartwright-Guion gathered her children and tried to get to Grace, which sits on the northern tip of Main. Firefighters who had blocked the entrance to downtown tried to stop her, but she was having none of it.

“They were just doing their job,” Cartwright-Guion said, “but I had to see what had happened.”

What she saw was her store filling up with water, contents and all, because the roof had blown away.

Bill McGraw, whose Yazoo Insurance Agency sustained minor water damage when the adjacent structure’s roof had holes poked in it, was at a high school basketball game at Humphreys Academy in Humphreys County when the storm struck. So was Yazoo City engineer Wayne Morrison.

“The headmaster got on the PA and said the game had been cancelled and told us to go home,” Morrison said. Morrison’s engineering firm’s office was virtually unscathed.

The same was true for Garry Roark’s Ubon’s Restaurant on Highway 49.

Roark’s home on Broadway, less then a mile northeast of Main Street, was damaged in April’s storm, but not in Monday’s. That’s where he and his family were Monday night, and he wasn’t taking any chances this time.

“I got dressed, put on shoes, grabbed my wallet, keys and got everybody in the basement,” Roark said. “About that time the lights went out. After it hit, I decided I better get out and look and see what happened.”

He was checking on his restaurant when fellow restaurateur Mitchell Saxton, who owns Ribeye’s Steakhouse at Four Points, showed up offering to help. Ribeye’s was nearly destroyed in April, but went untouched Monday.

Roark had stored some of Saxton’s food after the April storm, and Saxton had returned the favor by sending out-of-town clean-up crews to eat at Ubon’s on their lunch breaks.

“That’s the kind of neighbors we have,” Roark said. “That’s what it takes sometimes.”

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