McNairy County News Current Headlines

From the May 6, 2010 edition

exclusiveClick here to view more storm damage photos, from Tom Evans, Bryan Huff and Rodney Murray. A special thanks to Tom, Bryan and Rodney for their hard work and excellent coverage, and to Chris Tull at Robert Sibley Airport for providing and piloting the airplane.

Storm Damage 5/2/2010

churchAerial Photography by Rodney Murray. Airplane provided by the McNairy County Airport
The Bethesda Presbyterian Church, organized in 1893, was destroyed by the tornado which left a path of destruction from the southwest corner to the northeast corner of McNairy County in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mother Nature unleashes her power
For the second weekend in a row, storms and possible tornadoes were predicted for West Tennessee and areas of Mississippi.
After dodging a bullet two weeks ago, McNairy Countians once again discovered the awesome power of Mother Nature, when what has been classified as an EF-3 tornado with winds estimated at 145 mph tore through the county early Sunday morning.
The tornado hit Pocahontas just after 3:00 a.m. and then made its way through Selmer. One Selmer resident said his clocked stopped at 3:28 a.m. when the storm hit. After touching down in Selmer the tornado moved on to Purdy, Good Hope, Leapwood and the Milledgeville areas.
In Pocahontas, 67-year-old Liz Buxton, who lived in a trailer on Tomlinson Road, was killed. In McNairy County, there were no fatalities and no serious injuries, but several people were treated at the hospital for injuries suffered in the storm.
The tornado uprooted trees like someone pulling weeds out of their flowerbed. It snapped other trees like someone breaking toothpicks or straws. Houses had their roofs blown off, windows sucked out, walls blown down, or in some cases were totally destroyed. Numerous barns, sheds and garages were damaged.
Following the tornado, torrential downpours all day on Sunday flooded creeks, streams, lakes, ponds, and ditches, causing flooding throughout the area. One man said his rain gauge collected 11 inches of rain.
Over 400 people in the Michie area were without water due to pipes that broke due to flooding.
This was a devastating storm, but it could have been a lot worse. Numerous people could have been killed or injured.
Thanks to excellent predictions by WBBJ weather forecasters and stations in Memphis, along with tornado warning sirens and weather radios, many residents had time to seek shelter and get to a place of safety, which no doubt saved numerous lives.
Storms like this remind us of a couple of things. Mother Nature has some awesome power and each day is a gift from God.

basementPhoto by Bryan Huff
Flashlights provide the illumination as emergency workers in the basement of the courthouse try to get organized following Sunday morning’s storm.

Wreckers crash in Crump, 1 person killed
wreckerPhoto by Tom Evans

A head-on collision between two wreckers occurred around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon on Hwy 64 in Crump just past the Blanton Road turnoff that leads to Shiloh Golf Course.
According to officials on the scene, one of the wreckers belonging to United Auto Recovery, a repo company out of Memphis, was pulling a Chevy Tahoe and was headed west. The other wrecker was empty and was heading east.
The driver of the eastbound wrecker apparently crossed the centerline and struck the other wrecker head-on. The eastbound wrecker then caught fire and the driver was later pronounced dead at the scene. The condition of the other driver was unknown at press time.
The name of the person killed had not been released late on Wednesday night. The accident closed a section of Hwy 45 for some time as the Crump Fire Department worked to bring the fire under control.

PEC working hard to restore power

On Sunday, May 2, Pickwick Electric Cooperative suffered major damages to its electric facilities. Approximately 8,600 of our 20,500 members were out of power with 150 poles on the ground. We received assistance from Bolivar Energy Authority, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, Southern Electric Corporation, and Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative.
As of 3 p.m., Wednesday, we had less than 200 members out of power that are able to receive service. All system feeders have been restored and we expect to release the outside crews Thursday.
We wish to thank our members for their patience and our friends for their assistance. A special thanks for the many offers of help and acts of kindness that were extended to PEC.

Selmer Utility Department relocates due to storm

Due to damage to the Selmer Utility Department during Sunday morning’s tornado they have relocated to the Rotary Room at the Selmer Community Center.
Selmer Utility Department customers may still pay their bills at the Peach Tree Avenue location night deposit box, but they will have to go to the Community Center to pay in person. The office will be open from 8 to 5 Monday – Friday, and the phone number is still the same at 645-7928. According to Richard Ashe Director of the Utility Department, it could be as long as 3 to 4 months before repair work is completed.
“We had a lot of water damage and almost everything was ruined, but we did manage to save our computers and we have all our records,” said Ashe. “We thank everyone for their help and we ask for our customers to be patient as we work to repair all the damage.”
Insurance adjusters were expected to check out the damage on Monday.

Kidnapper pleads guilty
Photo Submitted
Amanda Ervin Wilbanks
McNairy County Circuit Court records confirm Amanda Wilbanks pleaded guilty last week to one count of kidnapping and one count of theft of property between $1,000 and $10,000.
She was sentenced to three years on the kidnapping charge, along with probation. She was also sentenced to two years on the theft charge. A charge of simple assault was dropped.
Wilbanks was given credit for time served and released from the McNairy County Jail. She was taken into custody by the Alcorn County Sheriff’s Department awaiting the disposition of a charge of improper disposal of a corpse.
Wilbanks and Aaron Hastings Jr. were indicted earlier this year on charges of kidnapping, simple assault and theft in McNairy County. They were charged last December in Alcorn County with improper disposal of a corpse in connection with the dumping of the body of 50-year-old Donna Hill of Ramer, TN, whose body was found floating in the Tuscumbia River in Alcorn County, MS on October 25, 2009.
Wilbanks was driving Donna Hill’s car when she was arrested.

Be careful in selecting tree removal companies
If you suffered tree damage from last weekend’s tornado be careful in hiring someone to remove the tree or trees.
According to David Goodman of Shelter Insurance Company, homeowners should make sure the person contracted to remove the tree is licensed and insured. Goodman also noted that trees that are downed by wind are not covered on most insurance policies.
The only trees that are covered under insurance are those that fall on a house or covered structure. If a tree is on your house, then the insurance company will pay for removal and debris cleanup. Trees knocked down in your yard by the wind are not covered for removal costs. Also, if a good live tree in your yard fell into your neighbor’s yard and caused damage, you are not liable for the damage. If one of your trees fell on a neighbor’s car, you are not liable.
If someone offers to cut trees from your yard, make sure you don’t pay them up front. Don’t pay them until the job is complete. There are many fly-by-night companies that take advantage of people following tornados. Make sure you check the company out before you hire them.
Goodman noted that his company had around 35 homes insured that were damaged and adjusters hoped to have all the homes assessed as soon as possible. Total claims on houses insured by his company are estimated at around a half million dollars.

Schools out until Monday
All schools in McNairy County will be out again on Thursday and Friday due to the recent tornados.
“All our schools came through the storm in good condition,” said Mr. Charlie Miskelly, Director of Schools. “We had a couple of classrooms that had a little water get inside, but it has been cleaned up and everything is fine. Due to many areas still without power and roadways that have not been completely cleared we feel it’s best to wait till Monday to resume school. Some of our buses might have problems running and our students’ safety is the main thing. I will make a request to the State to try and get the days we were out this week waived because of the tornado being a natural disaster. Hopefully, they will honor our request and those days won’t have to be made up.”
Mr. Miskelly says the only changes for next week will be that next Friday, which was scheduled as a staff development day, will be a regular school day. Everything else planned for the rest of the school year will be as scheduled.