Video: Reflecting Back On The Smithville Tornado, 5 Years Later

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SMITHVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – 5 years ago Wednesday, it’s a day Smithville residents will never forget.

16 lives were lost and more than 100 homes destroyed, as an EF-5 tornado ripped through the town.

“It’s something I hope nobody else has to go through,” said former Monroe County Sheriff, Andy Hood.

Hood was the sheriff of Monroe County when an EF-5 tornado came through Smithville.

He remembers driving into the town after the tornado hit.

“I actually came on into Smithville and coming up 25 heading north, it’s something you never want to see and hop you never see again,” said Hood.

Hood says shortly after, first responders from neighboring counties began to come to Smithville to lend a helping hand in recovery.

“The help was there, the call came in constantly wanting to know if we needed help. We had departments state-wide come in, we had as far as Louisiana officers come in to help assist in the situation. After we had it under control and was doing the patrolling part, trying to keep looters out. So it was overwhelmed with help,” said Hood.

Hood says although it’s hard to plan for a disaster like this one, there was an emergency plan in place.
“That was done very well here by all the volunteers from the volunteer fire department, all of our state agencies came in and just the common citizen here that came out and helped their neighbor,” added Hood.

Chad O’Brien has been the principal at Smithville High for more than 10 years.
“Complete devastation. And that’s what it was. This town, this school there wasn’t anything left,” said O’Brien.

That day, school was dismissed early and all students were home safe. The school was near a total loss.

“You can’t see it today if you didn’t see it five years ago, and imagine what it looked like 5 years ago. Everything was just ruble and what you see today on this campus 90% of it wasn’t here it was just scorched earth. It was just gone.”

O’Brien says many people became leaders and first responders that day, stepping up to help their community.

“When those things happen it becomes about survival and you don’t picture life 6 months from then or a year from then, you picture that day. And the next day and everyday you just get up and you try to do the best you can that day with the situation and days turn into weeks and weeks turn into years and then you end up where we are today. Blessed with a new campus 5 years down the road and just very thankful for everything that’s happened,” said O’Brien.


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