Tornado Damage

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 30, 2010

Flag poles were bent, but the flags were left flying, in front of a church in Yazoo City after a deadly tornado that swept through Mississippi August 24. The church, in the background, was also destroyed. Photo provided

Locals saw ‘unreal’ devastation after twister

By Billy Davis

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Three Panola County sheriff’s deputies and two Batesville police officers have returned from tornado-ravaged Yazoo County.

 “It was unreal. It was something you’ll always remember,” said sheriff’s deputy Bubba Moore, who went south with fellow deputies Earl Burdette and Michael Downs.

The tornado struck Saturday, April 24, with winds estimated at 170 miles per hour when it hit Yazoo County. Ten storm victims are confirmed dead.

The tornado was recorded as the widest ever in Mississippi, at 1.75 miles, with a tracking of 149 miles through the state, according to state emergency officials.

Gov. Haley Barbour has asked for counties Yazoo, Choctaw, Attala, Holmes and Warren to be declared federal disaster areas.

Moore, a K-9 officer, recalled how the tornado’s winds leveled whole subdivisions.

He relayed that locals described how the tornado devastated communities both when it was airborne and when it traveled on the ground.

From the Batesville Police Department, police officer Clyde Estridge and detective Jeremiah Brown represented that agency in Yazoo County.

The five law enforcement officers left Panola County Monday afternoon to relieve Mississippi state troopers and Mississippi guardsmen.

Downs said the Panola County detachment served on guard duty, to prevent looting, Monday night.

The following night, the deputies and police officers rode with Yazoo County deputies to patrol the large county.

Yazoo County has the largest square mileage in Mississippi (Panola is third), with only 12 sheriff’s deputies on payroll, Downs said.

Despite the upheaval, the Tuesday night calls were minor and included only one fight.

“And somebody hit a deer,” Moore recalled.

The deputies and police officers worked 12-hour shifts and were asleep Wednesday when they were told to return home.

“It was eye opening. It makes you appreciate what you’ve got,” said Downs, who had never been to a disaster site before.