WEBSTER COUNTY, Miss.(WCBI)-Saturday marks the two year anniversary of the deadly tornado that destroyed homes and businesses in Webster County.
As rebuilding efforts continue, the storm remains fresh on the minds of many. We spoke with emergency responders, who witnessed the tornado’s devastating power.
“People were trapped in heavily damaged homes. Trees splintered and snapped. The debris field covered hundreds of acres. I had to actually climb through two trees to get to the front door at the 911 center,” says 911 Director Jimmy McLemore.
When the EF-3 Tornado hit Webster County, McLemore had to work harder and faster than ever before. People were trapped. Lives were on the line.
“A lot of the volunteer fire departments here divided up into groups and they started going door to door, checking on people and making sure that they were okay and if they needed anything if I help was needed they got help to them,” adds McLemore
“It was bad that morning as the lights went out I started trying to get my family together. I had a grown son that was still living at home and I was calling for him and he was coming out of his room. He had come out of his room into the hallway and we were standing there probably six to eight foot apart with flashlights looking at each other when the main part of the tree came through our home. If he were still laying in the bed there was possibility he would not be here because his end of the house is what took the majority of the blow,” says Mathiston Fire Chief Lee Gilliland.
Saving lives is part of Gilliland’s job ,but that day, he was the one who needed help.
“I’ve always been a part of the fire department to the point where you wanted to go help everybody. You want to help as much as you can, but at this point I was not able to get out of my house. I had to call for help to come in; which I was on the opposite end of the stick that I’ve always been on and it felt good to know that I knew guys who would be there,” says Gilliland.
Two years is not long enough to repair all the damage, but people here are making progress.
“The landscape still looks terrible, but you know everybody that did live in their homes and they all still living back in the same homes. I think our community has grown closer together, I really do,” says Gilliland.