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Christmas season tornado wreaks havoc in North MS; 7 dead, 1 missing

Nearly a full day after the Dec. 23 tornado damage in Mississippi, a coherent picture finally started  to emerge as to the human cost of the storm.

Seven deaths have been confirmed in north Mississippi with one person still unaccounted for in Benton County, as of mid-afternoon Christmas Eve.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency in Jackson confirmed that there had been four fatalities in Benton County, two in Marshall County and one in Tippah County during the long-lasting Wednesday evening tornado strike.

No reliable account was available late Thursday afternoon as to the number and severity of non-fatal injuries.

The worst damage occurred in Benton, Marshall and Tippah counties.

Scores of homes and other buildings were totally destroyed or severely damaged, a few hundred people had become suddenly homeless, and thousands were without electrical service as dark fell the night before Christmas

Preliminary reports from the National Weather Service (NWS) said that a single tornado, up to one mile wide, had remained on or near the ground in Mississippi for more than two hours and for a hundred miles or more. The NWS said it was rare for a single tornado to plough such a long path of damage. The tornado was believed to be at least of EF3 strength.

The single tornado first touched ground south of Clarksdale in Coahoma County, caused structural damage near Como in Panola County  and continued on a northeasterly path that eventually crossed into Tennessee from the Brownfield community at the far northern end of Tippah County.

Shelters are open at the Clarksdale Auditorium on East Second St. in Clarksdale, at the Marshall County Multi-Purpose Building on N. Memphis St. in Holly Springs and at Harmony Baptist Church at 28840 Highway 15 in Walnut.

To volunteer or donate to help those affected by Wednesday’s storms, go to www.msdisasterresponse.org. You can register to volunteer or even make monetary donations on the website.

For more information, see Sheriff’s Office helps out

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