National Rural Water Association
2915 S. 13th Street
Duncan, OK 73533
580-252-0629 FAX 580-255-4476
Chris Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 13, 2011
MsRWA responds after tornados
Courtesy of the Mississippi Rural Water Association
RAYMOND, Miss. – Most people watched on the television in awe of
the devastation across the south on April 27, 2011, but trust us
when we say rural counties need help and they still do. More
than 35 Mississippians were killed, 2,527 homes were severely
damaged, 993 homes were completely destroyed, and the damage
assessments are still ongoing. The hardest hit counties in
Mississippi were Monroe, Tishomingo and Webster.
In Monroe County, a small rural town was wiped out in an instant.
An EF5 tornado ripped through the rural town of Smithville, MS.
With a town population of about 900 people, the tornado came through
with estimated winds of 205 mph. Twenty-seven people were killed,
and around forty injured. The Town of Smithville was in ruins. In
one part of town, not a structure was left standing as far as the
eye could see. The rural town has no businesses, no avenue of
commerce, and no schools. Pieces of tin were wrapped high
around the legs of a blue water tower. The Piggly Wiggly
grocery store was gutted, with wires and insulation dangling from
the ceiling. Houses, the post office and the police station
were completely destroyed. Neighborhoods resembled the
Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
Damage assessments have determined that 150 houses, 14 businesses
and 2 churches were destroyed by the tornado in Smithville. These
houses were very well-built, but the storm was violent enough that
all appliances and plumbing fixtures in the damage path were
"shredded or missing."
The Town of Smithville was in dire need
of any assistance. MsRWA assisted the Town of Smithville by
providing generators. Our crew of expert staff helped restore
power to their water and sewer plants. We located water lines
and valves. We repaired leaks, pulled water samples, inspected
elevated tanks, smoke tested and capped off sewer lines. This
small community was the hardest hit during this recent outbreak.
It will take years for this community to rebuild.
County hundreds of trees were down, many across power lines that
caused power outages. The Town of Belmont was out of power.
Two businesses were completely destroyed, and the town’s maintenance
yard suffered severe damage. About 30 homes suffered major damage,
and the high school baseball field was destroyed with trees down all
across it. We assisted the Town of Belmont by providing
generators, locating water lines and valves. The Town of
Belmont water system is now in stable condition.
County reports came in of severe damage along Hwy. 82, including the
Cumberland area where East Webster High School suffered significant
damage. Homes damaged, two deaths and 15 injuries were
reported in Webster County. We assisted the Cumberland Water
Association by providing generators, locating water lines and
helping to repair water leaks. Cumberland Water Association is
now in stable condition.
While there are too many counties to
list with damage the following are some that MsRWA assisted after
In Carroll County, there were damaged homes and
some roads were closed due to debris in the road. We contacted
Pelucia Rural Water Association but there was no immediate need at
In Choctaw County, there were damaged homes, trees
down, power outages, one death and three injuries. We assisted
Simpson Water Association with repairing a water line that was
damaged. The water line was crossing a creek. We also
repaired other water leaks. The system is now up and running.
In Holmes and Chickasaw County, there was storm damage reported. We
contacted the Town of Durant and East Chickasaw Water Association
but there was no immediate need at that time.
In Kemper County,
the Northwest Kemper Water Association lost their new $2 Million
dollar treatment plant. MsRWA contacted the system but they
were up and running off other plants.
In Oktibbeha County, the
storms left Starkville and the Mississippi State University campus
without power. Trees and debris were down on the TVA transmission
system leaving many without power. MsRWA assisted Adaton Water
Association by providing a generator. The system is now in
There was tornado and storm damage as far south
as Greene County. Our staff in south MS assisted the Town of
Leaksville by providing three generators. We helped repair
water leaks. The Town of Leaksville is now in stable
Ms Rural Water Association also helped Alabama Rural
Water Association by delivering generators and getting the Town of
Bear Creek, AL up and running.
While most people waited to see if
their own town or community was going to be the next victim of these
devastating unpredictable tornadoes, Mississippi Rural Water
Association went into “Help” mode. We went to work immediately
to help by providing generators to restore power so systems could
provide their customers with at least the basic necessity in life
“water”. MsRWA knows the importance of “water”.
There were thousands of cities, rural communities, neighborhoods,
and people who were worried about food and water. We aren't
talking about people in a 3rd world country here - we are talking
about people in the USA in 2011. MsRWA was already in the
process of contacting system operators and mangers across the
devastated areas to address the needs and severity of each system
before the threat was over.
Cities and rural systems from
around MS started contacting MsRWA wanting to know how they could
help. We made calls to water systems asking for assistance to help
provide and transport generators for those in need. Generators
were borrowed from water systems throughout the state.
During these times of natural disasters MsRWA, MEMA, power companies
operators, mayors , police officers, firemen and volunteers from
across this great state go to work immediately in order to help
restore power and water to our communities, towns and neighborhoods.
These recovery efforts begin in earnest and immediately in most
areas, but the devastation caused by these tornadoes will require
years of support for these communities to rebuild. Recovery
after such a catastrophe will not be easy, given the magnitude of
damage across the state of MS, but it is underway.
either contacted or visited most of the systems that may have been
affected by the devastating tornadoes. Our staff is
highly-trained in all types of recovery efforts. Almost all of
them have worked during a natural disaster of some kind from the
hurricanes, floods, ice storms, pipeline explosions and tornadoes.
They are devoted to helping others during natural disasters in
Mississippi and surrounding states.