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Storms slam area

By Staff
THANKFUL Kevin Bishop huddled with his wife and son in a ditch as an apparent tornado ripped through the Dalewood Shores community. He is shown sharing a hug with his neighbor, Jane Barnum. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander and Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Dec. 17, 2000
DALEWOOD Huddled in a ditch, Kevin Bishop and his family watched as Saturday's apparent tornado ripped a path to their mobile home, destroying almost everything they own.
With howling winds churning the nearby lake, Bishop gathered his wife and son and sought shelter outside.
The storm, which officials from the National Weather Service have not yet classified as a tornado, struck Lauderdale County at 11:40 a.m.
At least 21 people, eight from the Dalewood community alone, were reportedly taken to area hospitals. Lauderdale County Fire Services Coordinator Clarence Butler estimated late Saturday afternoon that at least 100 homes were damaged in the melee  35 percent of those seriously.
No one was killed, and emergency officials agree the damage could have been worse.
Butler said he believes one funnel cloud was responsible for all the Lauderdale County damage.
Another local official said a tornado touched down just east of the Northeast Industrial Park and then hopped northeast to Dalewood, where it tore through the trailer park, jumped the lake and left even more devastation on the other side.
Bolen's Food Store, a local landmark, was directly in the storm's path. This morning it is a pile of splinters. Sollie said emergency crews don't know how the clerks there escaped, although one unofficial report said a woman was injured after a wall collapsed.
Joey Burt lives in the same neighborhood as Bishop. His mobile home was destroyed when the winds knocked down a 65-foot pine tree slicing the trailer in half and sending his 6-year-old daughter Kasey to the hospital.
Surveying the damage to his home, Burt said there is nothing left to do but try and put everything back together.
Another Dalewood couple, Pete and Jane Branum, heard the tornado bearing down on their neighborhood.
Emergency workers from Marion, Meridian, Lauderdale County, Naval Air Station Meridian and the Mississippi Department of Transportation arrived at the scene within minutes to help injured people and clear roads and property, Butler said.
Mike Reich, director of customer services for East Mississippi Electric Power Association, said about 6,000 customers in Lauderdale County lost power. Reich said crews were scheduled to work through the night, but power for some Dalewood customers will not be restored until today.
If you need assistance, or can offer assistance, call the Key Chapter of the American Red Cross at 485-5151. Residents are asked not to use cell phones during this emergency period.
Ben Alexander and Marianne Todd are staff writers for The Meridian Star. E-mail them at balexander@themeridianstar.com and mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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