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Tornadoes, drought and more weather

It seems Mississippians couldn’t catch a break from Mother Nature in 2010

Three days after BP’s oil began spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, Yazoo City was on the business end of one of the worst tornadoes in Mississippi’s modern era. The EF4 twister packed winds of more than 160 miles per hour. It destroyed 200 homes, killed four people in Yazoo County and eliminated a lot of Yazoo City’s tax base. A total of 40 businesses had some degree of damage. Fifteen of those were destroyed.

As historically bad as the storm was, though, had its path been a hint northward “it would have been devastating,” Yazoo Chamber of Commerce chief Henry Cote said in late April (“It could have been worse,” MBJ May 3). “Downtown, Jerry Clower, it all would have been gone. There would have been zero tax base left. As it is, I’m really worried about the tax base. A big chunk of it’s gone. The (businesses) that were hit were hit hard.”

Before Yazoo City could fully recover from April’s storm, the night of Nov. 30 delivered another body blow.

An EF2 twister took the path that would have made April’s so much worse. The good news, though, is November’s twister did not stay on the ground as long and was not nearly as powerful as the April storm.

November’s tornado, whose winds were estimated at more than 120 mph, ripped the roof off the 104-year-old building that houses Grace Hardware downtown, leaving exposed to heavy rainfall hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of furniture, hardware supplies and knick-knacks. Twelve hours after the twister struck, water nearly ankle-deep stood on the first floor of the three-story building.

MBJ’s May 3 cover story took a look at how Yazoo City, badly hit by an EF-4 tornado, could have been in much worse shape had the storm taken a course, just one half mile to the north.  Unfortunately, a second tornado, with less severe winds, took the northern route in November.

MBJ’s May 3 cover story took a look at how Yazoo City, badly hit by an EF-4 tornado, could have been in much worse shape had the storm taken a course, just one half mile to the north. Unfortunately, a second tornado, with less severe winds, took the northern route in November.

“No roof left, no insurance,” Grace owner Susan Cartwright-Guion said as she carried – despite a visitor’s insistence on doing so – an antique highchair across Main Street to a dry building (“Bear with it and have faith,” MBJ Dec. 6). “All our furniture’s wet. All I can do is pray and call for the Mennonites. That’s what I’m doing because I’m not putting a $40,000 roof on that building. As much we can save, I’m going to save. The rest of it is gone.”

November’s destruction was markedly less than April’s. No fatalities and only minor injuries were reported.

Grace Hardware, the Yazoo County Public Service Commission and the Yazoo County Schools building bore the brunt of the damage in November. A feed store on the Jerry Clower/U.S. 49 business corridor sustained heavy damage.

A tire shop and an auto-repair place near the Broadway/U.S. 49 intersection also had significant damage.

“I’ve got some roof damage and a little bit on the side,” said Garry Roark, who owns Ubon’s Restaurant on U.S. 49. “The inside is fine. If they could get this electrical wire out of the way in front of the building, we’d be having fried chicken for lunch. Everything we lost is minimal. It might be $15,000 or $20,000 worth, but you can replace all that. You can’t replace people. We’ll be one day down, and that’ll be it.”

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About Clay Chandler

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