By HOLBROOK MOHR / Associated Press
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- A tornado tore through Hattiesburg on Sunday as part of a wave of severe storms that downed trees, damaged buildings and injured at least three people.
The twister traveled down one of Hattiesburg's main streets and mangled homes, commercial buildings and several structures on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. The state emergency management agency said it was only aware of three injuries in the state, all in a county to the west of Hattiesburg.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said it appears that a single tornado caused the damage in three counties.
On the campus of the university, trees were snapped in half around the heavily damaged Alumni House where part of the roof was ripped away. Windows in a nearby building were blown out, and heavy equipment worked to clear streets nearby in a heavy rain after the worst of the weather had passed.
The university released a statement saying no one was hurt but that it was under a state of emergency, anyone away from campus should stay away until further notice.
East of campus, 47-year-old Cindy Bullock was at home with her husband and dog, a terrier mix named Vinnie, when she heard the tornado coming. They ran to a hallway and covered their heads. It wasn't long before the windows in the kitchen and bedroom exploded. The storm stripped all the shingles off the roof and left holes in it, while knocking over a large pine tree in the yard.
After dark, the Bullocks were trying to arrange their stuff inside so it wouldn't get wet from the dripping water.
"I just looked out the window and I heard the rumbling. It sounded like a train. We ran to the hall, and the kitchen windows and the windows in the bedroom exploded. It happened pretty fast," she said.
There were large trees blocking the road all through her neighborhood, and several of the houses were hit by falling trees. Her friend was staying with them after the friend's apartment took a direct hit from a falling tree.
To the west, Marion County emergency director Aaron Greer says three injuries have been reported in the community of Pickwick, about seven miles south of Columbia. He says two people were taken to hospitals, but the third didn't have the injury examined.
Greer says one mobile home was destroyed, three other structures have major damage and several have minor damage.
Gov. Phil Bryant plans to go to Hattiesburg on Monday to check out damage in the city and at USM, his alma mater, spokesman Mick Bullock said.