Mississippi residents cleaning up after massive storm injures 2

Saturday, April 26, 2003

BRANDON, Miss. -- Armed with chain saws and shovels, residents began cleaning up Friday from a massive storm that injured more than 20 people and destroyed or damaged 120 homes.

The storm moved across the state Thursday night, snapping trees at mid-trunk and leaving utility lines dangling across streets. At one point 7,500 people were without power, but that was down to about 700 by Friday.

The storm moved east Friday, destroying at least two homes in west-central Alabama, officials said. A tornado was spotted in the area, but no injuries were reported.

The most severe damage was in Brandon, about 10 miles east of Jackson. Weather forecasters said it probably was hit by a tornado similar to the one that ripped through the town 11 years ago, killing eight people.

"There must be a magnet around here," said Lady Margaret Townsend, who has lived in Brandon since 1987.

The storm ripped off sections of the roof of Brandon Elementary School, allowing rain to pour into classrooms and damage computers and books. Officials said many of the 1,000 students would have to finish the final four weeks of the semester elsewhere.

Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove declared a state of emergency in three counties in the Jackson area and a county in southern Mississippi.

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