MUW President reflects on 20th anniversary of tornado in Lowndes County

LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) -Today marks the 20th Anniversary of a disastrous Tornado that hit Lowndes County.

One of the hardest hit areas was Downtown Columbus. The twister destroyed or damaged several buildings on the Mississippi University for Women campus.

A warm and eerie day is how W President Nora Miller describes November 10, 2002.

I sat with her as she reflected on the damage that ushered in many changes.

After two decades, Mississippi University for Women President Nora Miller, says she remembers that November day far too well.

“And it was kind of foggy and very eerie it was just mass destruction; our gymnasium was totally demolished the third floor in our art design building was sheered off. About 20 other buildings were damaged, but those were the two that were really striking. We were without power for several days. It was amazing that no one on campus was hurt,” MUW President Nora Miller said.

Before technology such as cell phone weather alerts and social media, President Miller says communication was limited during severe weather.

“Phone lines were difficult getting through our radio. The repeater that carried our police radio communications was down, so North Campus didn’t realize what had gone on the south campus until they were able to get out and really patrol the area, and it was dark with no lights,” MUW President Nora Miller said.

Years after that experience, MUW now works to help others affected by severe storms.

“We help to house people. We also reached out to Southern Miss when they were hit because they needed fuel and we had a full tanker of fuel and all the Mississippi Universities; after this kind of made up a plan on how we can reach out and help each other. When you are a victim of something like that and you hear of somebody else experiencing that you want to reach out and help because you realize how much that help meant to us,” MUW President Nora Miller said.

Twenty years after that tornado left a trail of destruction across campus, damaged buildings have been repaired or replaced, and a new generation of students is looking forward to future growth across campus.

“A feeling of pride and a feeling of hope as I said we continue to grow and continue to change with the times and I look forward to what we are able to do in the future.” MUW President Nora Miller said.

President Miller is excited about one of the latest renovation projects – the Culinary Arts building coming in fall 2023.

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