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franklin county times

Heavy rain, howling wind interrupt
Saturday routine in Russell community

By By Sharon White/The Meridian Star
Dec. 17, 2000
RUSSELL For a few frightening moments just after noon Saturday, off-duty Meridian firefighter David Sharp felt and heard his world literally collapsing around his ears.
And, enduring tornadic strength winds slamming into his home, Sharp was credited not only with saving his own family but also directing rescue workers into his neighborhood where they could begin to care for his injured neighbors.
For Ann Jellenc, according to neighbors in the same area, the situation was similar.
A relative of Mrs. Jellenc's, Buster Jellenc, was apparently working in a nearby workshop when the brunt of the storm moved in, knocking the building down on him. As rescuers arrived, he was complaining of chest pains.
Meridian Fire Chief Bunky Partridge said the Jellencs, and a woman who lives in a mobile home on Charlie Dunn Road about a half-mile away, suffered the worst injuries from sudden and fierce winds that cut a swath a quarter-mile wide and three-quarters of a mile long through this normally quiet Lauderdale County community.
Partridge, who headed a command post established at Marion Russell and Old Homestead roads, said 13 people from the Russell community were transported to hospitals for treatment.
And, while each probably has a story to tell, the fire chief credited Sharp with getting the ball rolling working the phone as emergency workers arrived, calling neighbors who were at work when the storm hit.
But Sharp himself, and his family, were in the middle of the chaotic winds and rain. When the winds picked up and dropped his mobile home twice, he knew they were in trouble.
Sharp said he and his wife, Beth, were in the mobile home with their three children at the time.
Sharp's home was almost destroyed. His neighbor's house on one side went untouched, and his neighbor's house on the other side was leveled.
Sharp and Schwan say they are fortunate.
Leister said the tornado missed her home, located near the workshop where Jellenc was working.
Sharp is convinced what he saw out his back door was a tornado. Officials were expected to review the path of the storm today before making a formal declaration.
Sharon White is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at swhite@themeridianstar.com.