By PAUL SIMS
Christopher Mays pulled up to his residence Monday night when “everything went dark.”
His truck was rocking.
“I braced myself,” he said, adding that his mobile home started sliding toward him. He put his vehicle in reverse and saw the dwelling begin to come apart.
“It was crazy,” Mays said. He left the area. “I’m really okay, considering what most people lost.”
He lived on the southernmost street in The Pines, a mobile home park in Starkville off Louisville Street.
A tornado leveled several residences and left others with damage. The scarred landscape was littered with broken limbs, roofing tin and other items not usually on the ground or in utility lines.
Relief agency representatives could be seen interacting with people at various places throughout the park and groups from Calvary and Meadowview Baptist churches prepared hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwhiches for those who needed to eat.
Just down Louisville Street, officials with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency set up a presence, as did Community Counseling.
Another Pines resident, Estella Lee, lived in a home about four residences to the east of a handful of residences gutted, flipped or flatted by the storm.
“I slept through this,” she said as she surveyed the damage. She woke up the night before and saw firefighters walking down the street. “My baby, she’s six. She prayed we would go safely through the storm,” Lee said of her daughter, Jada.
And they did.
Estella Lee says Jada “never got scared. She said she was okay because she prayed. ... God is good.”
At least a portion of a tree fell on Lee’s residence, leaving some roof damage, she said.
In the middle of the area with the greatest damage, Robert Graham was loading up a trailer with belongings Tuesday afternoon.
He stopped to retell what he lived through the night before.
Graham says he was in the living room of his mobile home at about 11:15 p.m.
“It felt like I was falling in a well,” Graham said.
He said he and Isabella Collier — a friend — “fell in the same crack.”
He believes he and Collier were under the residence’s remnants about 15 to 20 minutes. He thought Collier was hurt.
While he was talking Tuesday afternoon, someone helping to go through the mobile home found Collier’s glasses and watch in pretty much the same vicinity where Graham says he and she fell.
“I smelled gas and I knew it was time to move,” he added, noting she forced herself up; he pulled also.
They went to Oktibbeha County Regional Medical Center to get checked out. “She was okay and I was okay,” Graham said.
“By the will of the good Lord, we were blessed,” he said.
Collier said, “Thank God we got out alive.”