All the phones in the household went off at once. It was a tornado warning alarm, something we take very serious in these parts. Since I’ve lived in Wiggins, there have been three tornadoes hit with a couple mile radius of my home. My sons and I immediately ran to both porches to view the horizon from every direction. The tornado did not hit us but did strike very close to my other home in Foxworth.

Columbia Mississippi Tornado

Columbia Mississippi TornadoTwo days before Christmas a devastating tornado swept through Columbia, Mississippi killing two people and injuring many more. As we drove up State Highway 13 into Columbia, it was easy to tell just how broad this storm was. The tornado cut a one mile path straight up the highway to just before the intersection with U.S. Highway 98. There it made a right turn and was eastbound and down, leveling everything in its path. We saw home after home destroyed, then as we entered the business district we saw all those once familiar places reduced to monuments of rubble. People were standing in their yards staring as if they hadn’t a clue what to do next. It was a very sad sight.

My son, Nathaniel, and I shot about 900 photographs. I am including some below and will add some more as I have time. We did not stop and get out to take the photos. All of them were shot while driving. In preparing this article I realized it would make no sense to post all of the shots taken of the greatest devastation. After a couple of photos they all begin to look the same…giant piles of rubble. I decided to put a couple of those up and let that suffice. There were lots of photos of roof metal wrapped around trees and even some shots of a convenience store which ended up on the other side of the highway with a coke machine standing almost straight up.

Personal Tragedy

Rhonda McKenzie's Back Window

Rhonda McKenzie’s Back Window

The tornado affected friends and family. In particular, Jen’s mother, Rhonda, who was in her car at the Columbia Wal-Mart when the tornado blew four of her six windows out. While at work she began to feel ill and decided to sit in the car for a few minutes. As the storm approached she quickly moved the vehicle alongside the outside wall of the Auto Zone. With the driver’s side up against the wall, that particular window, and the windshield, did not shatter. This bit of quick thinking may have saved her from serious harm. Though her car is in sad shape, she came through unscathed.

The same cannot be said for family friend, Amber Owens Sumrall. She was at work at the Head to Toe beauty salon on Highway 98. As the tornado grew close, she decided to run and lock the front door. Just as she got there, the storefront collapsed and killed her. Another women, Danielle, threw her body over her child as the roof came down. The child is in good condition, but the mother lies in Intensive Care with a crushed skull. The sad news is Amber also has a child who now must grow up without his mother.

National Coverage

It didn’t take the weather channel long to get on location. We passed them on Highway 13, then later saw them on television. There were also crews from news stations around Mississippi and even Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The good folks in Tuscaloosa know how devastating tornadoes can be. I will post more soon…

Columbia Mississippi Tornado Coverage by the Weather Channel

Weather Channel on Hwy 13

Columbia Mississippi Tornado Coverage by the Weather Channel

As Seen on TV

Photo Credits: All Photos by John Cripps (12.24.14)
Click on photos below to enlarge: