Paulo Salazar

About Paulo Salazar

Paulo comes to us from San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from Mississippi State University in 2007 and loves his MSU Bulldogs. Paulo has been with WCBI News over four years and curerently serves as the Weekend Anchor and weekly reporter. To contact him feel free to email him at paulosalazar@wcbi.com or follow him on twitter @paulosalazar34.

Video: Smithville Remembers

SMITHVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – April 27th 2011 is a day that will haunt many through out the state as an EF5 tornado swept across Mississippi and in to Alabama leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Claiming dozens of lives and millions in property damage, the sights and sounds are still fresh on peoples minds two years later.

Tornado survivor Dick Cox says, “I started out and there were men over there throwing debris back and I started over there and somebody caught me by the shoulder and said, you don’t want to go over there. What it was is they were pulling my brother out of the debris.”

All that’s left now is the foundation to Dick Cox family home where he and his three siblings grew up. His wife Edna remembers the sights and sounds like it was yesterday.

According to Edna Cox, “I was just scared to death and then you look out and you think in just a matter of seconds everything you had was gone. You look up the highway and you didn’t see any houses. You go up town and there’s not anything up there.”

The EF5 tornado brought winds of over 200 miles per hour and destroyed everything in its path. For the Town of Smithville it not only claimed homes and businesses by 16 lives that will never be forgotten.

Smithville Disaster Recovery Assistant Kin Johnson says, “When we saw the damage that the neighbors had sustained it was just shocking and it was terrifying. You just didn’t know where to go or what to do.”

As first responders were coming to help all that could be scene was miles of snapped trees and mounds of rubble that once were homes. But for Kelly Estis who lost both of her parents, found it difficult to explain to her then seven year old that nana and papa didn’t make it.

“When I went to my friends house that he was at I took him into a room by himself and I told him. He already new mama had passed away, you know Nana is in heaven dancing? He said yeah. Well I said, know she has a dance partner. He started crying and then I started crying. Whenever I lost it he stopped immediately and put his arm around me and said Mama we’re going to be ok.”

And just as little Gable put his arm around his mother to offer support, so has so many making Smithville stronger than ever.

Johnson says, “We’ve been through such a traumatic event that it’s a slow process to recover.”

It’s an experience they may never get over.