Storm Damage

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Butler Estates bears brunt of bad weather

By John Howell Sr. and Billy Davis
The extreme weather system that brought violent thunderstorms and tornado warnings through Panola County Friday, May 2, struck Butler Farms with a one-two punch.

Edward Butler called about 5 p.m. from the family subdivision on a scenic hillside along Highway 35 North and reported damaged sheds and downed trees in the area.

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Less than an hour later, Butler called again and said that another severe storm had passed through, adding to the damage. The latter storm had turned over an empty trailer that was unattached to its 18-wheeler, peeled back the metal roof a mobile home and damaged several sheds and conventional homes, he said.

After the second storm, the normally pastoral setting of the hillsides resembled an ant hill of activity. Neighbors and kinsmen pitched in with chainsaws and tractors while others gathered and watched.

Ethel Butler said that she was at home alone with the grandchild when the winds struck. Even though she has a storm shelter, she said that the storm struck so quickly and with such force that she put the baby in the bathtub. Damage was visible on a west-facing porch

A total of six homes were damaged at Butler Estates, Daniel Cole, deputy director of Panola County Emergency Management, told county supervisors Monday.

The storms also killed a herd of cattle due to lighting and caused a tree to fall into a house on Bill Wallace Road, Cole said.

Edward Butler maneuvered the tractor that his mother, Ethel, normally uses for grass-cutting to pull a downed tree from Coon Butler Drive. After Darrell Butler used a chain saw to cut apart another tree that had blown down blocking Fondren Road, he joined his brother, Walter Butler, and pulled smaller, downed limbs from the front yard of family patriarch E. C. Butler.

The storm that struck Butler Farms first is thought to have followed shortly the warning of the tornado siren sounded in Batesville about 4:15 p.m.

The severe weather triggered two Batesville alarms later in the evening, one at 8:50 p.m. and another at 9:15 p.m.

No one was injured at Butler Farms, nor were injuries reported in the New Albany-Enterprise area where tornadoes believed to have been spawned by the same system destroyed homes and buildings. The storms have been blamed in seven deaths that occurred in Arkansas as the system moved to the northeast.

Gov. Haley Barbour on Monday declared a state of emergency in Panola, Coahoma, Grenada, Prentiss, Union and other counties affected by Friday’s extreme weather.

Cole said the governor’s action could pave the way for disaster assistance for Panola County but it is not guaranteed.