1 dies during storms


Car hydroplanes on 35 Saturday, lands in trees Storms ripped through Marion County Saturday causing damage to homes, flooding and accidents, including one that killed a man. Shortly before 9 a.m., tornado warnings were issued for neighboring areas including Walthall County after a tornado had touched down in Pike County near McComb, though no warnings were ever issued for Marion County. “When the storm got to the Marion-Walthall line, it dissipated a little,” Emergency Management Director Aaron Greer said. “We had rotation here, but no tornadoes and no warnings. It came back strong as it entered Lamar County.” But the more than 3 inches of rain caused several wrecks, with the most serious one claiming a life Saturday afternoon near 2. Kenneth Gray, 40, of Mt. Olive was killed when his car hydroplaned on Mississippi 35 North near Shivers Road, left the roadway and landed vertically in some trees. Gray and another person were thrown from the vehicle, and Coroner Norma Williamson pronounced Gray dead at the scene. The second person was transported to Marion General Hospital. The Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and AAA Ambulance Service with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. A complete report of the accident was not available as of deadline Tuesday from the MHP. Another area man is lucky to be alive after a tree fell on or in front of his vehicle on Mississippi 43 near Mail Route Road around 10 a.m. First responders and firefighters from South Marion, Pine Burr and Foxworth used chainsaws in the pouring rain to remove the tree from around the vehicle. The driver, whose name was not immediately available from reports, was checked by AAA Ambulance Service at the scene, but he did not appear to have any major injuries. Winds caused damage throughout area, knocking down trees and power lines. The Columbia Fire Department responded to a power line that had fallen on Broadmoor Avenue and was smoking. Crews from Mississippi Power worked to repair the downed line, which caused some outages in Columbia. Shortly after the call of the lines down, Columbia Fire Chief Jeff McKenzie was forced in to action at his Ridgewood Drive residence as a tree fell on it. “We had a large tree on the roof,” he said. “It was a big mess. We were home at the time, and it shook the house when it hit.” McKenzie said they’re gutting some of the home now. “A lot of people came to help. I appreciate it. Mark Carithers and Justin McKenzie came by right away and then a whole bunch of people showed up. They did a real good job of helping out. It was quite an experience,” he said. The Columbia Fire Department, meanwhile, was busy answering calls such as the line down. “The guys were busy running with calls,” he said. “I would have been with them on Broadmoor, but I was dealing with things at my house. It was something.” Around 10 a.m., Pine Burr Volunteer Fire Department firefighters were responding to Pine Burr Road about a mile off Mississippi 13 for reports of trees down. Firefighters and others cut trees out of the roadway. They also responded later, around 5:25 p.m. to Pine Burr Road for more trees that had fallen. In addition to the fatal crash on Mississippi 35, the Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department also responded to and accident at Pittman and Cedar Grove roads. No injuries were reported in the 11 a.m. incident. Greer said that officially, Columbia received 3.12 inches of rain. “I’ve heard unofficially of reports of four to five inches in the county,” he said. Across the state, two tornadoes had been confirmed as of Monday, an EF-1 in Rankin County with winds of 90 mph, and an EF-2 in Lauderdale County with 115-mph winds. Additional National Weather Service surveys are ongoing. Lauderdale County was the heaviest hit with 45 homes, 14 apartments, and four public buildings receiving major damage or being destroyed. More than 70 homes received minor damage as did 15 businesses and eight public buildings. There was one injury and up to 60 residents were displaced. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has deployed staff to Lauderdale County to assist. In George County, high water rescues were performed by emergency officials for 81 people who were attending an event at an ATV recreational park when floodwaters rose rapidly. In Rankin County, one home was destroyed.


Pictured Above: Volunteer firefighters from South Marion, Foxworth and Pine Burr work to cut a tree that had fallen on or in front of a vehicle during storms Saturday morning on Mississippi 43 near Mail Route Road. The driver was not injured. | Photo by Mark Rogers