Being offline most of the time, I usually scan the subject of emails to get a gist of what’s happening in other parts of the world. Headlines of a tornado that hit near Clarsksdale Mississippi got my attention, as I once lived in Clarksdale and several other Delta towns in that area. John Ruskey at Mississippi River Dispatch/Quepaw Canoe Company sent this report to his subscribers this morning:
Christmas Eve Eve Tornado
Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No 328
Posted Monday, Dec 28, 2015
We’re Okay, but Here’s How to Help
“Thanks to everyone who has been calling or writing in concerned about how we’re doing after the Christmas Eve Eve storms, one of which produced an unusually long-lasting tornado that swept a diagonal path 145 miles across northern Mississippi into Tennessee, reportedly staying on the ground the whole way. We are okay in Clarksdale, but outlying areas in the county got hit hard. Homes and airport were damaged near Clarksdale; emergency crews said about 25 homes are severely damaged in Coahoma County, and many more have minor damage. An entire subdivision was wiped out in the Bellevue area. No loss of life reported in Coahoma County, but nearby Benton and Marshall Counties got hit hard with multiple deaths reported.
Several of you have wondered how to help… Thank you! See below news story from CNN for ways to help those who have suffered:
Mississippi communities destroyed: Mississippi was hit just before Christmas and many injuries and deaths were reported. The governor has declared a State of Emergency. Many communities have been damaged and in many cases, families have been left homeless. If you want to help, the Mississippi Emergency Management has ways to donate or volunteer on their website. The small towns of Holly Springs and Clarksdale, Mississippi, are among the hardest hit. The Mississippi Red Cross is providing shelter, food and supplies and you can make a donation here. If you live in the Holly Springs area you can drop off aid at the Eddie Smith Multipurpose Center, 285 North Memphis Street and in Clarksdale at the Civic Auditorium at 506 East 2nd Street.
Direct Relief is sending medical supplies to the region and is just one of many organizations getting ready to respond.
The tornado was visible from the Hopson Plantation, the Shack Up Inn, and must have come across the Sunflower River somewhere south of there, maybe in the Dublin/Roundaway area. Clarksdale narrowly missed being hit by the tornado. It passed within five miles of town. But nearby communities were hit hard. Belleview especially, we’ve heard that 25 houses were destroyed in the county and many more damaged. And the rain was torrential. We got 6 – 10 inches of rain in a short intense burst of storms, and now all the fields and drainages are full of water, and the Sunflower River rose 10 feet in about 6 hours on Christmas Eve morning, and is now flooding big time, the highest its been since 2011 I think, judging by the muddy water creeping across the parking lot at Quapaw Canoe Company.
Update from John around noon Dec 28th, 2015:
1) I just got a report of one person died in Coahoma County as result of the tornado (details forthcoming)
2) Sen Robert Jackson shared this report from Quitman County: “We also have many families who lost their homes in the Marks area as well and need your prayers and assistance. Call Don Green at Ms Delta Council for Farm Worker Opportunities. 662-627-1122.”
More from John: Mississippi River Forecast- The entire Lower Mississippi and Middle Mississippi River Valleys have been experiencing heavy rainfall in these same storms, with flood walls being closed and the big river rising above major flood stage in St. Louis, and forecasted to crest around 48.5 in Cape Girardeau on Jan 2nd (which is at record height — as high as it got in the catastrophic floods of 1993!). The forescast for the Lower Miss is not as dire, 57 feet at the mouth of the Ohio River (Cairo, IL) on the 5th of January. (This is 17 feet above flood stage in Cairo), but it is expected to crest at 41 Memphis (7 feet above flood stage), at 43.5 in Baton Rouge on Jan 19th (8.5 feet above flood stage) and at 17 in New Orleans on the 20th (which is alarmingly high — the levees protect NO only up to 20 feet).
Whew! 2016 is going to be an interesting year on the Lower Miss!
For more photos of the Lower Miss and more reading, go to http://www.rivergator.org
The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
is a service of the Lower Mississippi River Foundation
Clarksdale, Miss ~ Helena, Ark
John Ruskey/ RiverGator.org
Quapaw Canoe Company
Lower Mississippi River Foundation
291 Sunflower Avenue
Clarksdale, MS 38614