HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Four people were killed and scores of homes were flattened on Saturday when a tornado ripped through this city in southeastern Mississippi in the darkness of early morning, officials said.
The City of Hattiesburg said on its Twitter account that four people had died after the tornado came through the city and surrounding area. The tornado was part of a wall of stormy weather traveling across the region, bringing rain and unstable conditions.
The city’s mayor, Johnny DuPree, signed an emergency declaration for the city, which, in addition to the deaths, reported “significant injuries” to residents and damage to structures. The city also said on Twitter that Hattiesburg firefighters and police officers were going door to door in a rescue effort.
Greg Flynn of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said rescuers were still searching for victims in the area hit by the storm. He said “massive damage” had been reported in a three-county area that was struck by the tornado at around 4 a.m.
Photos and television images showed the intensity of the damage. Cars were flipped over and sometimes piled atop one another while parts of homes were torn into shards of wood and debris. Trees were pulled from their roots and thrown across roads.
As dawn broke over the city, rescue workers and residents walked down debris-strewn streets.
The three counties affected are Forrest, Lamar and Perry. Flash flood warnings were also in effect for northern Forrest and Lamar counties, as well as the counties of Jones and Marion. The National Weather Service said three to five inches of rain had already fallen, increasing the risk of flooding. More rain — one to two inches — was possible.