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Storms put damper on weekend plans for this writer

By Staff
Feb. 17, 2001
Thought for the day: You gotta take the bad with the good, otherwise, how would you know what's good?
Originally, I was supposed to be covering the Division 2-4A Basketball Tournament Thursday and Friday nights at New Hope High School. That included staying in Columbus on Thursday.
It wound up being quite an adventure.
A scan of Thursday's Commercial Dispatch newspaper revealed that Mississippi State was supposed to get its 2001 baseball season under way Friday at 3 p.m. against New Orleans. That seemed like a good way to pass time Friday afternoon until the finals of the basketball tournament at 6.
But a further look showed that New Hope's always-strong high school baseball team was going to host West Lowndes at 4:30 p.m. for their season openers. Surely West Lowndes would pitch Nick Hamilton and surely he would give the Class 2A Panthers a chance to beat the young 4A Trojan squad. I chose to stay in Columbus and go watch the high schools play until basketball time.
But wait, I realize I've forgotten something … lunch. I'll run by Leigh Mall and see what's there before grabbing a bite and heading to the baseball game and then to the basketball tournament.
Upon arriving the mall, I run into a quartet of Neshoba Central folks already in town for the basketball game between the Lady Rockets and Narvel Colemon's powerhouse Noxubee County Tigerettes. It seems the Neshoba crew had been at Mississippi State for some school business and decided to come to Columbus instead of going back to Philadelphia and then driving back to Columbus. Smart folks.
About 2:45, while looking at CDs in a music shop, I began wishing I was safe at home. The rain was coming down as hard as I've ever seen it and the wind made it look like a full-blown hurricane … for 20 minutes solid.
With metal peeling off buildings and flying through the parking lot, an 18-wheeler laying on its side on Highway 82, two cars with rear windows blown or broken out in the mall parking lot, and trees falling, it wasn't surprising a lot of the folks stranded in the mall (which had lost electricity) were getting more religious by the minute.
Some began phoning loved ones at home or at work to see if they were OK. Many were unable to complete their calls for one reason or another. That didn't help relieve their worries.
Others began wondering how they would get home. A nice lady from Macon was in that group. She had barely beaten the storm to Columbus and didn't relish the thought of driving back home with the likelihood of downed trees and power lines to contend with .
When we were told it would be at least two hours before the power might be restored and with the wind reduced to a nice, coastal-type breeze, I optioned to head to the house. (The tournament got postponed until tonight any way.) And with no electricity, there wouldn't be any food cooking in Lowndes County any time soon.
Choosing to go to Starkville and then head South, I saw an awful lot of toppled trees, downed power lines, and cars that had either run off or got blown off the road. Road signs and billboards were no match for the wind as they either lay on the ground or dangled in the breeze with some part of their support broken.
I saw enough of Mississippi State's campus to know there's some big clean-up work ahead. And Starkville Academy's football field will need at least two new light poles.
There were many homes damaged and I soon realized my hunger pains were nothing compared with how they must feel.
Seems like I remember reading that weather might play a role in spring sports this summer. All it took was baseball's opening day to prove it.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at sports@themeridianstar.com.

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