Residents, towns clean up and recover after floods, tornado

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TUPELO, Miss. — Residents across northeastern Mississippi are cleaning up and digging out after getting hit by both flooding and tornadoes last week.

The Daily Journal reports that parts of the region got more than a foot of rain over a five day period and at least five tornadoes.

Churches, mission groups and civic clubs are helping residents who are busy ripping out waterlogged drywall and flooring. An organization called Eight Days of Hope brought trailers full of equipment such as dehumidifiers to help out residents.

“These are hard times, but you get to see people coming together too for the good of the community and helping others,” said one resident, Brian Neely. “Natural disasters give you a chance to see people turning negatives into something positive.”

In Lee County, many of the homes damaged by the storms are in one subdivision, called Willow Creek. The subdivision was built two decades ago in and near a flood plain and routinely flooded. Then around 2004, the drainage was improved by clearing area ditches to allow water to flow more easily into a nearby creek.

One resident said he’s been in the neighborhood for 20 years and this is the first time he’s gotten water in his house.

“We went and spent the night at my office. But it is in the Town Creek District shopping center. We had to evacuate from it the next day,” he said. But he said his family managed to save most of the possessions inside his house and his office didn’t flood so he considers himself lucky.

Residents and groups were also hard at work in areas like Columbus that were affected by tornadoes.

An EF-3 tornado ripped through the town of Columbus on Feb. 23 damaged 275 homes, 38 businesses and nine public buildings.

Electric linemen were out repairing power lines as law enforcement officers kept traffic moving around the bucket trucks. One resident, Regina Wells, lost her roof and carport. She was sitting outside her home while a worker covered the open roof with a tarp. Glass from the broken windows littered her yard.

“There are two trees in the yard behind the house that we were worried would fall on the house, but they didn’t,” Wells said. “We were blessed.”

In the town of Burnsville, tarps covered roofs, trees were down and debris was littered across the ground but there was a feeling of optimism among residents.

Kylie Gifford hid in her bathroom when the tornado hit, and she prayed as the wind howled around her. Now she’s focusing on cleaning up.

“We’ve had a lot of people come out and help us get the roof fixed and clean up all the debris,” she said.

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