Businesses and homes south of the Yazoo River from U.S. 82 through downtown Greenwood suffered the worst of a line of thunderstorms that whipped through the city late Wednesday night with high winds, heavy rains and continual lightning strikes.
The Delta Democrat-Times reported that Jackson Saulter, 19, a Washington County resident and recent Washington School graduate, was killed when a tree fell on his home outside Shaw.
No injuries were reported from the storm in Greenwood, but roofing blown off buildings by strong winds, followed by drenching downpours caused water damage to several businesses and homes.
Large trees were uprooted or snapped by the frontline of a storm system that moved through the city just after 11 p.m. The storm left as quickly as it had arrived, and emergency management and utility officials said the hardest-hit areas appeared to be inside the city.
Left behind were a few dozen uprooted trees, lawns scattered with broken branches and some downed power lines. There were a few instances of trees falling on cars, as well as one tree falling on a house on Mary Street. On Washington Street, just east of Strong Avenue, a tree in the parkway was left leaning against another tree and a house, exposing roots and a sewer pipe torn from the street.
The Greenwood Fire Department responded to several calls around 11:30 p.m. from people reporting damage from the storm. At a residence on Dunklin Avenue, firefighters shut the natural gas service off to a grill that had been torn away by the winds. A heater at a residence on West Taft Street began to spark after the house was hit by a fallen tree, and firefighters stood by while Greenwood Utilities workers disconnected the electricity.
Greenwood Utilities reported power lost just after 11 p.m. on three circuits that caused 723 customers to be left in the dark, primarily in downtown Greenwood, on East Claiborne Avenue and along Grenada Boulevard. Workers were able to restore power to customers served by the three circuits by 12:50 a.m. Thursday.
The utilities reported a falling tree broke a primary pole near McLemore and East Market streets. A new pole was installed on McLemore, and linemen in scoops from two trucks worked to move the service to the new pole.
Another tree fell across the intersection of Avenue H and East Scott Street, pulling down lines from a pole a half-block away on the corner of Broad Street. Power to the area was rerouted as city crews worked to remove the tree, followed by Greenwood Utilities linemen and workers from Suddenlink.
Some 100 Greenwood Utilities customers were without power at 7 a.m. Thursday, but Anthony Sinclair, CEO/president of the utility company, said by mid-afternoon electricity had been restored to all but a few scattered customers. He said the company’s 10 linemen had been working nonstop since the storm hit.
“We feel real fortunate considering the size of the trees that were knocked down,” Sinclair said. “...We’ve got 10 men who have been out there since 11:15 last night. I honor them highly.”
Fred Randle, Leflore County emergency management director, said county workers had been on the job through the night to clear fallen trees that had closed eight county roads. He counted 18 large trees down across the county, Greenwood and Itta Bena.
Greenwood city workers took on trees that had fallen across Mississippi Avenue and near the intersection of Cotton and Church streets. They were able to cut up the trees and used front-end loaders to remove them from the streets.
At the corner of Leflore Avenue and Sixth Street, near Greenwood Leflore Hospital, winds knocked a tree onto cars parked in front of a house of Meretta Bell.
“We were blessed, that’s all I can say,” Bell said. Although the tree fell across the cars, smashing windows and denting metal, it fell short of hitting Bell’s home.
Bell said her niece and daughter saw the tree fall.
“They weren’t injured, but they were frightened, scared,” she said. “I’ve been without power and sleep since 11 p.m.”
City Councilman Ronnie Stevenson, whose Ward 3 encompasses Leflore Avenue, was there to survey the damage Thursday morning.
At McLemore Street and East Market, an uprooted tree took out a utility pole, power lines and blocked the street in front of Minne Morrow’s house.
Morrow said the tree didn’t fall until well after the storm was gone, about 1 a.m. Thursday. When it did topple, it lifted up some of the sidewalk and fell toward McLemore. Murrow was grateful it didn’t fall in the opposite direction, onto the corner of her house where her bedroom is located.
On Washington Street near Strong Avenue, the storm uprooted another tree and left it leaning on a magnolia tree and the front porch of a house, said Ernest Harris, who lives on the street.
He noticed the uprooted tree, which lifted up a portion of the sidewalk and a sewer line, when he woke at 7 a.m. It didn’t hit his or his neighbor’s house, thanks to the smaller tree blocking its fall.
“This magnolia tree is a blessing,” Harris said. “This little tree held this big tree up.”
One of the large glass panes on the front of Smith & Co. Outfitters on Fulton Street shattered during the storm. Owner Howard Smith stood in the store Thursday morning and watched as workers replaced the glass. He said he’d been called about 11:30 Wednesday night that an alarm had gone off in the shop and had been on the scene all night. One picture posted on Facebook showed a mannequin that had fallen headfirst onto the sidewalk. Smith said it looked like the mannequin “tried to make a run for it.”
The line of storms that hit Greenwood left more than 200,000 people without power from Texas to Alabama. A few isolated tornadoes were reported in Greenville, Texas, causing damage to roofs.
The storms were still active Thursday morning and expected to cause more damage across Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and along the eastern seaboard before the front moved offshore.