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State News

May 2, 2010

Miss. hit by deadly weather again

3 people killed due to severe storm

ASHLAND, Miss. —

A weather system packing wind, rain and possible tornadoes killed three in Mississippi on Sunday, about week after a deadly twister left 10 dead in another part of the state.

Gov. Haley Barbour has declared a state of emergency for Benton, Lafayette, Panola, Tippah and Union counties, where heavy downpours and strong winds damaged numerous homes and flooded streets.

Latoya Long, 25, and Thomas Catrell Cowan, 26, were killed when their mobile home was blown apart by winds after 2:30 a.m. Sunday, said John Riles, the coroner in Benton County, which borders Tennessee.

"It looks like you stuck about four sticks of dynamite on it and it just disappeared," Riles said of the home. "There was a two-story house across the road and it didn't leave the foundation. If you didn't know the house was there you'd just think it was a vacant lot."

William Tipler, 68, and his son escaped their home unharmed, even though the structure was badly damaged.

"We were laying in bed when the roof came off," Tipler said.

About 50 miles away in Abbeville in Lafayette County, another person was killed. Lafayette County Emergency Management Agency coordinator David Shaw said the person's home was demolished by the storm. Shaw wouldn't release the victim's name, pending notification of relatives.

Heavy rainfall hampered cleanup efforts in Benton County, where hundreds of trees were toppled or their tops snapped off.

Shaw about 20 homes had been damaged and some trees were down, but otherwise there was no major destruction.

The National Weather Service was surveying damage in Abbeville and Benton County to determine whether tornadoes had been spawned by the system, said Marlene Mickelson, a meteorologist in the agency's Memphis, Tenn., office.

The system developed across Mississippi and moved into Tennessee, where six people were killed, said Mickelson. She said the system was a tornado supercell — individual storms — that caused the probable tornadoes in Mississippi.

She said flooding was reported across northeast Mississippi on Sunday. The rain was expected to move out of the state by Sunday night, and the threat of more tornadoes was minimal, Mickelson said.

The powerful weather system comes on the heels of a killer tornado that struck parts of central Mississippi on April 24. The twister left 10 people dead in Choctaw, Yazoo and Holmes counties.

"We're moving into the recovery phase of last weekend's storms. Of course, we lost three more lives," said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jeff Rent. "While we are spread thin, we're getting it done."

Rent said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was assisting with the recovery from the April twister and state partner agencies were mobilized for the latest weather emergency.

MEMA personnel were deployed to Benton County. The agency sent tarps to Benton and Lafayette counties.

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