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franklin county times

Residents recover from tornado

By Staff
LOST AND FOUND One-year-old Adam Cinqmars of Forest, above, keeps a close eye on his wooden toy horse Friday after it was salvaged from a family business that was destroyed when a tornado devastated Newton during severe weather Thursday. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star.
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Dec. 21, 2002
Larry Garvin, 64, choked back tears Friday as he sifted through the rubble that once was his father's business in Newton.
Garvin leased the building to Dan and Catherine Jay of Rose Hill, who ran a boutique and welding business there for 21/2 years.
From under a pile of bricks, Garvin found an American flag that was draped in the business' display window for many years.
His father, the late Leonard "Skinny" Garvin, retired as a mechanic after running Newton Garage at 107 School St. for more than 40 years.
On Thursday the building, once used as a school bus garage by the Newton Public School District, was one of five commercial properties destroyed when a tornado hit Newton.
The twister, with 157 mph winds, damaged hundreds of homes and businesses and injured more than 50 people.
Cleanup efforts
On Friday, traffic in several locations was directed and detoured by police as crews went cleaned up and repaired buildings that fell in the path of the F-2 tornado.
Damage assessments by the emergency management agencies of Newton County and the state of Mississippi assessed that eight homes and five businesses were destroyed.
Another 43 homes and 15 businesses had major damage and 130 homes and 75 businesses received minor damage, according to Gary Galloway, director of the Newton County Emergency Management Agency.
More damage assessments are expected to be done today by officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Mississippi Power Co. had 100 workers on the streets of Newton on Friday repairing power lines according to company spokesman Kurt Brautigam.
Crews with Broadband Tele Communications Inc. restored cable television service to Newton's Mediacom customers. Tom Olah, the company's system manager, expected all services to be restored within about three days.
For people needing food and clothing, the Key Chapter of the American Red Cross established a service center at the First Baptist Church on East Church Street in downtown Newton.
A narrow escape
Pamela Wells watched workers remove trees from New Ireland Street, home to her damaged house.
Wells was planning to put up her Christmas tree Thursday when her two sons returned home from school. Friday was supposed to be the last day of school before Christmas.
Wells said she is thankful her sons were not home when the storm hit Thursday. She escaped from her house without injuries after large trees crashed into it.
Wells made her way through wreckage in her home after the storm, sidestepping a large whole in the floor where the foundation of the house had split.
When she got to the front door, she said it was jammed and she was afraid she wouldn't get it open.
Wells said she and her sons, Darius, 10, and Darrin, 9, will spend Christmas with her mother who also lives in Newton, but whose home was left unharmed by the storm.
Wells, who works at McRae's at Bonita Lakes Mall, said her co-workers have offered to help her replace Christmas presents that were destroyed by the storm.
At least one thing of Wells survive without a scratch her car that was parked in from the house.
Business continues
At about 1 p.m. Friday, Bo-Ro's Family Restaurant on Highway 15 in Newton was filled with customers. Some were regulars, some were workers who had come to town to help with the clean up and recovery.
The topic of conversation for everyone was the storm.
The restaurant had been crowded the day before, as well, according to Dot Poole, a waitress who has worked at Bo-Ro's for 10 years.
A few shingles were torn off the roof of the restaurant Thursday and an 18-wheeler truck was turned over in the parking lot.
She said she and the lunch-time crowd of customers huddled into the hallway where the restrooms are just before the tornado touched down around them Thursday.
Craig Lovell, whose family owns Bo-Ro's, said the restaurant closed two hours later than usual Thursday night, at about 11 p.m. He expected it would stay open a little later than usual Friday as well.
Two of his customers Friday were Sue and Walt Roemen of Jasper County.