The question for most Hattiesburg residents is how do they go about putting their lives back together in the wake of Sunday's EF-4 tornado. For many families the question is "what now?"
Bridgette Fairley is a single mother of three, she is in the Mississippi National Guard. She had just returned from guard drill on Sunday when the tornado hit.
"The trailer just started shaking 'swish, swish, swish.' Next thing I know the kids are running. Everything was just tore up. My trailer, the tin, was all flipped up."
Fairley and her 11-year-old daughter Jaylyn, her eight-year-old daughter Courtney, and her three-year-old daughter Carey, are staying at an American Red Cross and Salvation Army Shelter in Hattiesburg.
"I don't know when I am going to get back in my house," she said. "There is a big tree limb on a power line behind it and they told me the power is live. They told me I could not stay there I asked them How long it will be until I can come back. They said they do not know."
Staying in the shelter with her girls has been tough on this mother of three.
"The girls last night were a mess," Fairley said. "I got no sleep. They were up all night crying and this one was scared to go to sleep because of rain and stuff and she would jump up and say the wind is coming again. No it's not."
Still with all the stress Fairley counts her blessings.
"I got blessings but they ain't come yet," she said. "I just hope they come soon. My trailer could have been worse. We made it out. It was enough to scare me and for me not to live there. My neighbors place is gone. I have not seen them. The police say they are okay...but they got no place to go."
To help families like Bridgette's:
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) said it received reports of at least 800 homes destroyed or receiving major damage from severe storms and tornadoes Sunday night. Power companies reported outages are down to 350 customers.
The National Weather Service in Jackson has confirmed an EF-1 tornado with 95mph winds occurred Sunday afternoon in Lawrence County. It struck the Arm community, snapping and uprooting dozens of trees. It also caused some minor roof damage. It was about 140 yards wide and on the ground for about 1.6 miles. This tornado is in addition to the EF-4 confirmed in Lamar and Forrest counties and the EF-3 twister in Marion County.
Three shelters are open for affected residents:
Forrest County Community 361 Shelter on U.S. 49 South in Hattiesburg.
Lamar County Multipurpose Center at 99 Central Industrial Rd. in Purvis.
Petal Civic Center at 712 South Main Street in Petal.
Joint damage assessments will begin on Wednesday with MEMA, FEMA, local officials and members of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The results of those assessments will be used to determine if Mississippi is eligible for federal assistance.
People interested in volunteering to assist with the clean-up are encouraged to sign up with the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service or by calling 1-888-353-1793.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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