Saturday, June 18, 2011

Smithville, Mississippi

We have been sitting in camp a good part of the days while we are here in Fulton because it is too hot to spend much time outside. We've toured the downtown area which is not too large. What is surprising is that they have many restaurants, not only fast food, but larger restaurants and several good hotel chains. I don't know why they have all this in Fulton. It is pleasant here, but not sure what the draw is except that it is just 17 miles from Tupelo, so I suppose if a big event is going down in Tupelo and there aren't enough hotel/restaurant spaces there, people would come here for the night.

I had reported earlier about the tornado damage in Belmont, Mississippi, over close to Belmont. Last Thursday we drove south out of Fulton just to enjoy the countryside and we drove upon the town of Smithville. . . or perhaps I should say, the FORMER town of Smithville. On April 27, 2011, there was a tornado of epic proportions. The cloud was three miles tall and the swath the twister cut was a half mile wide--right down the main street of Smithville. How many times have you watched coverage of tornado damage of lesser class storms and thought how horrific it was. This was a full-blown EF5 with winds of 205 mph! I am not kidding when I say that nothing is left of the main street. 140+ houses were leveled, at least 4 churches that I saw on a map, 14 of 16 businesses, and 14 people killed and 40+ people injured. The school suffered major damage to multiple buildings and most of the roofs were tarped up. The main street curves sharply to the north and that is where the twister exited across the highway and tore up woods on its way out of town.

The Sheriff's office is now in a trailer and some temporary FEMA houses have been set up. There are signs up for "Food" and "Water" which would be difficult to obtain from normal sources. All new telephone poles sit on the north side of the road and bulldozers and other heavy equipment are doing their jobs of clearing debris and removing trash. A burn pile has been established on the south side of town to get rid of some of that trash. Crews are working daily to get the land cleared. Temporary clinics have been set up to accommodate the needs of residents who live in houses further off the main street. Everything north of the main street to the Tenn-Tom Waterway is gone, but a couple blocks off to the south, some houses with minimal damage remain.

What a tragedy. The only thing we could relate it to was the 1965 Palm Sunday tornados back in Indiana. This was a stark reminder of the destructive side of Mother Nature at her worst. I took many pictures, but we don't know what stood in these pictures. You can see driveways in one part and foundations where house after house once stood. I looked on Google Earth to get a look at what the town looked like. It was devastating to this little town.

Today we drove through it again on our way home from Tupelo. The work continues and a few more buildings have been taken down because there was no way they could be restored. Please pray for the people of Smithville.

Till next time. . .


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