Looking Back at April 2011, Part 1

By: Stephen Bowers Email
By: Stephen Bowers Email

Dozens of tornadoes hit Mississippi and Alabama Apr. 27, 2011. Several of them tore through this area, doing major damage, and killing about a half dozen people. But those communities are recovering.

Tornadoes were dropping from the sky that day, amidst a 3-day long outbreak.

The monster storms killed hundreds of people across the country.

The first big tornado was an EF-5, the strongest tornado ranking. It developed over Philadelphia, Miss., as we watched, then it took aim at northwest Kemper County.

Things are quiet a year later. Three crosses memorialize the lives lost when their mobile home was lifted and slammed into the ground three football fields away. One year later, things are slowly coming back together.

"Things have changed slowly, but there is change," said Kemper County Sheriff James Moore. "I think some of the landmarks will never ever ever be the same, but things have changed and people are trying to get back to their way of life."

Looking back, Kemper County Sheriff James Moore says a better warning system could have helped, since in rural counties, people often do not have easy access to severe weather alerts.

"We do not have warning sirens in the county," Moore said. "I think what would help in rural counties like this is if people had the capabilities of having high speed Internet. Because of the technology now with smart phones, you can get early warning devices like that."

"Even though we've had tornadoes before, when it actually hits in your area and you actually see it, it gives you a greater respect," said Philadelphia Mayor James Young.

The tornado's first visible damage was in Philadelphia. We tracked its early stages with our Alfa Insurance Skycam in Philadelphia. One year later, Mayor James Young says things are almost back to normal.

"Storms tend to be tragic, but recovery tends to make our city and community better. Right now the parks are back in operation," said Young. "National Guard Armory is doing their job. The only thing left to replace is the old log cabin."

But what will never be the same as before is how people who were affected feel about the word 'tornado'.

The EF-5 tornado that hit Neshoba, Kemper, Winston, and Noxubee counties was the first to be classified an EF-5 in Mississippi since 1966.

In Part 2, we take you south of Interstate 20 where another powerful and deadly tornado made a run through Smith, Jasper, and Clarke counties before ending its run in Choctaw County, Ala.

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