A tornado almost a mile wide tore through Mississippi on Saturday, killing at least 10 people and causing significant injuries and damage. Fortunately, Vicksburg was out of harm's way as the storm moved northward.
Yazoo City, Mississippi, was hardest hit, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who was in Yazoo City where his home is located, called the twister "gigantic" and said that "in places [it] seemed to be several miles wide."
Preliminary reports indicate that at least 100 houses were destroyed in Yazoo County, and the death toll is expected to rise as rescue crews reach hard-hit areas where some residents may be trapped in badly damaged homes.
Governor Barbour stated, "By God's grace [the tornado] did not go into the most central part of the city, the most populous. However, it went through the southern edge and eastern edge of town in a number of large neighborhoods," he said. "A number of businesses have been destroyed and others severely damaged -- there are churches that have been obliterated."
Mississippi residents reported that the path of the twister was a half-mile to a mile wide, and news reports stated that the tornado had traveled 150 miles across Mississippi, starting in the western part of the state and moving northeast before weakening as it moved into Alabama.
In Eagle Lake, near the Louisiana border, 47 houses received damage and 10 houses were destroyed, and in Holmes County, approximately 50 homes sustained structural damage.
It's going to take a long time, a lot of money, and a lot of hard and heartrending work to restore the picturesque little town on the edge of the Mississippi Delta, but I have faith in the unconquerable spirit of Mississippians that has allowed us to recover from some of the most devastating storms in the history of our nation ... Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina come to mind ... and I know the people of Yazoo City, as well as others from all over Mississippi, will come together as one to do what has to be done to rebuild their town and to help those families who not only lost their homes, but lost loved ones, too.
My heart and prayers go out to them, and I'm going to try to contact the shelters to see how we can help.
I'd like to thank those of you who wrote expressing concern for our safety here in Vicksburg. We were very, very fortunate to be out of harm's way.