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Aside from the pictures and videos on the news and social media, I only got a small glimpse of the damage and aftermath of the damage from Friday night’s tornadoes in Mississippi. But that was enough. Thankfully the cells that produced the tornadoes passed below and above Water Valley. One of the tornadoes that went north did a lot of damage at Uncle Rupert’s place. The National Weather Service labeled the tornado as an EF-1 with estimated peak winds of 110 mph. The path length was 6.2 miles with a narrow path, an estimated 150 yards.
Rupert and Rita weathered the tornado in their hallway, their old farm house shaking as trees exploded all around them. Later when he pondered it all, he noted that if that was an EF-1 tornado, he wants no part of a EF-2 or better. My Dad sent out a text to family members that night, explaining the damage was limited to downed trees.
Massive cedar trees that had dotted their sprawling front yard for over a century had not fared well. Rupert added that the cedar trees breaking reminded him of the 1994 ice storm. Many recall that, the tree limbs breaking sounded like gunshots as they buckled under the weight of the ice. This time it was the strong wind that brought them down – apparently the sound was eerily similar.
An early morning video was shared with family and friends and it was bad. There were plenty of other trees down, as far as you could see from their perch in the middle of the old home place, but thankfully their home, outbuildings and vehicles had no damage.
I was already in the woods turkey hunting, but as soon as I got back to the house I decided I better check in with him. Always the jokester, he answered the phone with a “where in the hell are you?”
My brother, another uncle and several friends from their church had arrived early to help. I quickly came up with an excuse that I had only seen the video a short time ago but would be on my way. I spent a couple of hours working with him, only making a small dent removing piles of tree tops that were everywhere. As I left, Rupert and Rita were still counting their blessings. It could have been worse.
The next afternoon I got another small glimpse of the aftermath of the storm. I could see something floating in a pond where I was fishing in Grenada County. The wind gradually pushed it to the bank, and I could tell it was a picture and I scooped it up. There was no doubt this keepsake had come from miles away, maybe as far as Humphreys or Sharkey County or possibly from neighboring Carroll County. I also noticed pieces of roofing felt paper and other debris scattered across the area.
It turns out that people were finding similar items were scattered across the state. A Facebook page was created, Lost & Found Photos/Documents of the March 24, 2023 MS Tornado. There are countless posts with pictures of most everything you can imagine.
Pictures landed in folks’ yards, old checks and even a prom dress. Some of the keepsakes have already been connected with their owners.
Friends if there is a takeaway from all this, we better not get complacent with warnings about severe weather. It seems like they come more and more often, but we all need to stay weather wary.