McComb, MS Tornado, Jan 1975
TWISTERS RAMPANT THROUGHOUT SOUTH --
McComb, Miss. (AP) -- A tornado ripped a two-mile swath through McComb Friday, leveling businesses and homes, shredding trees and injuring more than 100 persons.
Officials said four persons died in McComb and three others in a nearby rural area. They originally said 10 persons had died in the most fierce of a series of tornadoes which lashed the statea between 8 and 10 a.m. Friday.
Three persons were reported dead on arrival at a local medical center, and another at a McComb funeral home. Officials said an elderly man and a mother and her daughter were killed near the small Ruth community north of McComb.
Hospital officials said 101 of McComb's 12,000 residents were treated for injuries with 10 admitted for continuing treatment here and seven sent to other hospitals. Two of those admitted here were listed in critical condition.
Identities of the dead were not immediately available.
The storm system which spawned the McComb tornado sent another twister thundering past the nearby Summit community. There, the North Pike Elementary School was damaged severely as 350 students huddled in the hallways, carrying out a tornado drill that saved most of them from injury.
Other tornadoes struck in an elbow-shaped path extending north from McComb to Jackson, 90 miles to the south, then across to Columbus in northeast Mississippi. Considerable property damage was reported in several areas.
"The tornado made a path all the way through the city .. about two miles," said William Hewitt, assistant administrator for the Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in McComb.
"It started at about the southwest portion and went out through the northeast. I heard the wind. A man came running and said a tornado is coming. The lights went out and it passed about 100 yards to the east of us."
The funnel missed the hospital, but dipped into the Southwest Mall shopping center across the street as its stores were preparing to open. One end of the center was demolished.
The tornado flattened the city's National Guard Armory, then rumbled through the fashionable residential section of McComb's north side.
The tornadoes sprang from a general weather system that released other twisters in Texas and Louisiana.
In Louisiana, a total of nine persons were hospitalized with injuries and there was at least one weather releated death. Officials had earlier reported at least two dead.
One teenage boy on his way to school in the Baton Rouge area was killed when a power line fell on him. And one crewman was missing from a tug which capsized on Lake Pontchartrain.
In Summit, Miss., the superintendent of the North Pike Elementary School said three students and four adults were injured, none seriously, when the storm "demolished about 90 per cent of the building."
"I was standing in the window watching it," said J. B. Pray. "We lost three school buses that were demolished, and a half dozen autos turned over."
Three other schools, one in Summit, one near the damaged shopping center in McComb and another in the Plantersville community in Lee County, suffered wind damage, but there were no injuries reported.
A funnel cloud was sighted over Columbus Air Force Base at Columbus in northeastern Mississippi, and high winds downed power lines and knocked two radio stations off the air in Columbia, in the state's southcentral sector.
Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1975-01-11