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Tunica County recovering from storm that left casino hotels in the dark

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TUNICA COUNTY, Miss. -- The power is slowly coming back on to areas of Tunica County that were hit hard by a violent storm Tuesday afternoon.

High winds snapped as many as 20 utility poles in half, knocking out power to traffic lights, homes, casinos and other businesses in the area.

Luckily no one was hurt, but the bad weather left some first-time casino visitors wondering if they'd have a place to spend the night.

Four women from Minnesota were disappointed after making their first visit to Tunica's casinos.

"And we were coming into town here last night, ready to go to the casino, have a good time. And we got here and everything here was dark," said Dorie Haala of Proctor, Minn.

They arrived Tuesday after a powerful storm hit north Tunica County, packing winds strong enough to snap utility poles and leave most casino hotels in the dark.

That included the Harrah's hotel "tower," where they were booked.

They ended up at the Harrah's Varanda Hotel, and weren't alone.

"And they were shipping people in from the other casinos that had no power at all," said Haala.

Kim Curless, from Andover, Minn., said she and her friends want their families know they're all OK, but can't right now.

"We don't have any internet at the hotel, you know, the service isn't there. We're fighting for washrags right now," said Curless.

The storm caused plenty of headaches for others as well.

Traffic lights were out at busy intersections on Highway 61 and other roads leading in and out of casinos.

Tunica deputies and Mississippi Highway Patrol officers were making sure drivers treated the intersections as four-way stops.

Some businesses were in the dark, but none were damaged.

At the Buck Island Mobile Home Community, there was plenty of evidence of the storm's furry.

"There was two mobile homes destroyed in it. Because it picked up the home  and dropped it into another home. But both of those homes were vacant," said Debra Yelvington, Manager of Buck Island.

No one was hurt at the mobile home park, but the maintenance man Kenny Staten had a lot more litter to pick up Wednesday, and vivid memories of the Tuesday's powerful storm.

"The wind just came...whoosh...like that there and it just started raining. I couldn't see nothin'," said Staten.

Dianne Barnes lives east of the mobile home park and was shaken up by the violent storm.

"I was scared. I ain't never been in no high wind like this, that I know of, " said Barnes.

Her home lost some of its siding, but said she's not surprised after experiencing Tuesday's storm.

"I figured it was going to do some damage, because I was hearing things hit the house. But I didn't know what it was. But I did see some hail," said  Barnes.

Utility crews are hoping to have all the power restored by Wednesday night.