PETAL, Miss. – At 3:45 am, a tornado swept through the city of Hattiesburg and by 3:55 it made its way to Petal. What seemed like hours only took seconds as both cities were devastated by the force of nature. Check out the link above to see the aftermath.
The twister drove through Petal from the south, cutting a path through schools, businesses, churches and homes as it traveled northeast. At roughly 4am, people were in the streets helping to pull others out from the debris and wreckage while others went to their places of employment to assess the damage. Police and First Responders restricted travel out of and into the city until safety was guaranteed.
At first glance, Petal is just another small city sitting a few miles off the interstate looking for potential growth. But further east, as the new expanses come into view, the devastation can be seen. Buildings are leveled, houses are scattered across the streets and wooded areas, vehicles are turned over, and roads are completely obscured and flooded. The story has been the same for this resilient town: Get knocked down, get back up, rebuild bigger and better.
This community has been resilient over the past 12 years. Going back to 2005, it started with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, moving forward to Hurricane Isaac and the winter tornado of 2013 that leveled the city, and now, 2017, another winter tornado has come and the first order of business is to rebuild.
Photos by Cornelius Thompson