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Day after monster tornado, Mississippi city assesses the damage

February 11, 2013

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Daylight Monday revealed damage done by a tornado that ripped through this southern Mississippi city the day before, sparing residents from major injury but destroying some homes and damaging scores more.

At least 63 people were treated for storm-related injuries, and more than 200 structures were damaged by the storm, according to Kyle Hopkins, emergency operations manager of surrounding Forrest County. He told The Los Angeles Times that emergency managers were still tallying how many structures were destroyed.

He said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant held a briefing Monday morning with local emergency managers at the University of Southern Mississippi campus, which saw significant storm damage.

"We finished search and rescue and we're just now trying to get rid of some of the hazards in the roads," Hopkins said.

Those included downed power lines, trees and the remnants of homes blown apart by the twister.

Winston Avary, 23, a bank teller at the University of Southern Mississippi Federal Credit Union, stood outside next to a humming generator and surveyed the damage on Hardy Street, a thoroughfare in the tornado's path. Police and state troopers were stationed at intersections, and downed trees, signs and power lines littered sections of the street. Behind the credit union, he said, homes had been ripped apart.

"We've been through Katrina -- we've seen this before," said Avary, a native of Pascagoula, Miss.

Don Harmond, 61, the credit union's president and chief executive, has lived in the area for 22 years and agreed the storm didn't compare to Katrina, but said the damage was still significant.

"We just had a few two-by-fours through the roof, some shingles gone. But we were very fortunate. There are some houses destroyed," he said, walking out back and pointing to homes with boards ripped off the sides and trees toppled.

"That's probably the twister, the way it snapped," he said.

Then he pointed to the boards sticking out of the credit union's roof.

"That's somebody's house."

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