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franklin county times

Storms, rain-soaked ground
topple oak tree onto home

By Staff
CLOSE CALL – A large oak tree sits Monday on top of Richard and Carole Smith's 28th Street house. The tree fell moments after Richard got up from his lawn chair on the front porch and went inside. Carole, who was inside, thought the crash that shook the house was a loud clap of thunder. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
August 24, 2004
Carole Smith thought the booming crash outside her 28th Street home Monday morning was the loudest thunder she'd ever heard.
A few moments later, her husband, Richard, told her to call 911 because a large oak tree had fallen across the roof of their garage and house.
Richard was sitting in a lawn chair on the front porch of the home he and Carole have shared for more than 30 years. He had just walked inside the house when, at about 10 a.m., the tree came down.
The Smiths had the worst damage reported in the Lauderdale County area after severe storms struck East Central Mississippi on Monday. By afternoon, rain was leaking through the roof in the Smiths' living room.
But they were thankful things weren't worse. "I thank the good Lord we were spared," Carole said.
From the driveway, it looked like the Smiths' family car was crushed in the carport. But it was saved by a stationary bicycle and some tall shelves that kept the roof from falling on the 1999 Nissan Maxima.
Heavy rains pelted the area much of the morning, sending debris onto city and county streets and even causing minor street flooding. By late afternoon, skies had become party cloudy.
Clarence Butler, director of the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency, was at the Smiths' house shortly after the uprooted oak fell.
John Baxter, warning coordination officer with the National Weather Service's Meridian office, said radar estimates of total precipitation for Lauderdale County average about 3 to 4 inches since noon Thursday.
August has also been unseasonably cool, due in part to Hurricane Charley, which churned a cool, dry, Canadian air mass into the region. Several record low temperatures were set throughout the state for August.
Baxter said more rain is expected this week, with probabilities of thundershowers dropping from about 30 percent in the afternoon to about 20 percent in the evening.

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