By Kevin Edwards
BC Staff Writer
A major storm system swept through the south Sunday killing at least six people and leaving untold damage in its wake.
Fortunately Bolivar County and the rest of the Delta sustained no fatalities The National Weather Service in Jackson forecasted thunderstorms to begin early Sunday, however straight line winds didn’t arrive until approximately 9:15 p.m.
Parks Elementary School suffered severe damage with a gaping hole left in its structure where the library should have been.
A large chunk of the southwest building’s roof was torn off and thrown nearly half a block east.
The distance spanned the entire southeast building, the Parks parking lot and Tenth Street before the roof landed mostly intact.
A massive tree was also pulled from the ground and collapsed on the resident’s house. Another tree behind it was also torn from the ground.
Lisa Pinkerton, a teacher at Parks, posted on Facebook Monday, “Our library teaching space has been destroyed. That same exact space was my first classroom when we moved to Cleveland and I started teaching at Parks.
“I haven’t slept much at all. I have cried many tears. I have gone to my school to look from afar at the loss. I have sat in the parking lot at school this morning and prayed for our teachers and staff and our students. I am so thankful we weren’t in school!!!
“This place is my life! It is the only school I have taught in since I have lived in Cleveland,” said Pinkerton.
“My kids went to school here. It becomes your second family. All the students and teachers and staff and parents, they become family, which are all the reasons I have poured my heart and soul into this place.
“So many great memories. We will overcome. We will become stronger. We will be better. Pray for our school, as we will soon have to rebuild and replace things. It won’t be easy but in the end it will be worth it!”
Rosedale was the first area of the county to receive the brunt of the storm. One tree fell on a house on Chicago Street.
“We were without lights for at least a third of the town,” said Rosedale Mayor Carey Estes. “It caught the northeast corner as it came across the levy. Took three big trees down and then on over toward the middle of the town it took one tree down.
“Few small trees and small damage but no rooftops off or anything that’s been reported to me or that I’ve actually seen while out assessing stuff.”
Bolivar County Emergency Management Director Michael Lamb said work began on cleanup late last night.
Lamb said there has been plenty of tree damage in all areas of the county.
“The storm came across the river around Rosedale and we started to receive calls from Rosedale Police Department, Bolivar County Sheriff’s Department, saying there was a tree down on a house in the town of Rosedale,” Lamb said. “Nobody hurt but a tree was down.
“As it came through traveling east, started knocking some power out between Rosedale and Pace. Pace had some damage as far as trees down.
“Got to Cleveland and more damage and power outage through most of Cleveland and of course had some trees down on some houses on Memorial Drive. They actually are still down on Memorial Drive trying to clear out some big trees out of the roads.”
There was similar tree damage in Winstonville and Merigold.
The Bolivar County Road Department and Cleveland Public Works worked to clean up the trees and debris.
Lamb said it looked like the damage could be from straight line winds but will have to wait for determination from the National Weather Service in Jackson before confirmation can be made.
Cheryl Comans of Entergy said there are widespread outages throughout Bolivar County.
“We’ve got a lot of scattered outages,” Comans said. “South and west parts of Cleveland is out, and we’ve got a little work to do in this area. In north of Rosedale, Gunnison, parts of Mound Bayou and Duncan, along with Shelby and Winstonville. A lot of scattered outages that will take some time.
“A lot of it is broken poles, wires down, damage to our facilities. A lot of vegetation down which will require vegetation workers to come in to clear that so we can get to what we need to restore the facilities back.”
As of mid-afternoon Monday, some areas were still without power.
Gov. Tate Reeves signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency for the affected areas.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency director Greg Michel said one person killed was in Walthall County, two were killed in Lawrence County and three were killed in Jefferson Davis County.
All three counties are more than an hour’s drive south of Jackson, near the Louisiana state line. The two people killed in Lawrence County were a married couple — Lawrence County sheriff’s deputy, Robert Ainsworth, and a Walthall County Justice Court deputy clerk, Paula We, a Facebook post from the county sheriff’s office said.
The National Weather Service said strong winds were sweeping through other parts of Mississippi, and a tornado was spotted north of Meridian near the Alabama state line. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency Sunday night after he said several tornadoes had struck the state.
“This is not how anyone wants to celebrate Easter,” Reeves said on Twitter. “As we reflect on the death and resurrection on this Easter Sunday, we have faith that we will all rise together.”
The National Weather Service advised thunderstorms would shift across the southeast and mid-Atlantic states Monday, bringing potential tornadoes, wind and hail.
Around 750,000 people were without power early Monday in a 10-state swath ranging from Texas to Georgia up to West Virginia, according to poweroutages.us.
News outlets reported downed trees, flooded streets and other damage in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia, but the National Weather Service hadn’t immediately confirmed additional tornado touchdowns.
Strong winds late Sunday toppled power lines and blew trees onto several houses in Clarksdale, Mississippi, trapping some people inside, Mayor Chuck Espy said.
“I know these are some tough times and I’m just asking everyone to stay prayed up,” Espy said.