Mississippi tornado wreaks havoc; kills 4

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Rain was pouring down in the pre-dawn darkness, and the wind was picking up as Darryl McMorris ran for his daughters’ bedroom. The windows started blowing out as he dove on top of his girls, grabbing one under each arm as he tried to protect them.

“As soon as I did that it seemed like we were flying in the air,” he recalled Saturday. Walls collapsed and the house began to blow apart as his daughters screamed. But he held on tight.

When the tornado finished ripping its way through their Hattiesburg home he and the two girls were under a wall. Their house appears to be a total loss, bedding tossed 50 feet into a tree and their oldest daughter asking, “Is God mad at us?” But they’re alive.

“I don’t see how we survived this,” said his fiancee Shanise.

Across the tornado’s devastating path, families were taking stock of the damage, grieving over the remains of their homes and in many cases mourning those killed. Authorities said four people died when the twister touched down around 3:35 a.m. Saturday.

Shannon Hefferan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says damage reports indicate it touched down in Lamar County, skirting just south of Hattiesburg — the state’s fourth largest city.