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Weather
12/25/12

Not A Quiet Christmas

Your 10pm Weathercast for Tuesday 12/24/12 with Meteorologist Jeff Robbins

Dozens of families survived what emergency workers are describing as a possible tornado.

It was a Christmas to remember, but not in a good way for people ravaged by storms.

Strong wind and heavy rain blew through neighborhoods in pearl river county… South of mc-Neal, near highway 11.

Dozens of families were devastated as they gathered for the holiday.

“It sounded like a train coming,” homeowner Tim Kahl said. “And I hollered and told him it’s a tornado you know, tornados coming get down get back in.”

WDAM storm damage picThis photo was taken during daylight hours, shortly after the storm by Mississippi television station WDAM.

Tim Kahl describes what he heard around that time.

“We heard the siren go off behind the store.” “After that it was all you know chaotic. Everybody running, fire alarms, the fire department coming out with the fire trucks,” Kahl said.

Emergency responders worked well into the night; blocking entrances to hardest hit areas and clearing roadways.

“We have a dozen homes damaged and we have had several injuries,” said the Emergency Management Director for Pearl River County. “We transported six people. Nothing life threatening. No fatalities.”

Several streets were blocked by downed trees and power lines, and front lawns were littered with debris.

The hardest hit areas were so dangerous, emergency workers wouldn’t even let our camera past the barricades.

“It’s a mess. Where it went through is like Katrina, except it blew the houses up it hit,” Kahl said.

Bad weather also put a damper on Christmas in other areas.

At Armstrong International Airport several flights were cancelled or delayed.

Wade Petite’s daughter was delayed in Dallas.

“We got word, she just texted their deicing the plane; so we’re in a holding pattern right now,” Petite said.

So too are some families in parts of central Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

For them, the clean-up, will be long.

“it was a definite tornado,” Manley said. “We’ve had several people call and say they saw it. The damage is indicative of tornado damage. We’ve had homes that are 90% destroyed. That doesn’t happen with straight line winds.”

The National Weather Service still has to determine the severity of the storm.

A forecast for high winds almost put a stop to the Christmas Eve bonfires in St. James Parish but Mother Nature instead served up perfect conditions!

After consulting the National Weather service St. James Parish Emergency Preparedness gave the go ahead to light the bonfires as planned.

It only takes a spark to ignite one of these wood Christmas tree shaped structures doused with fuel.

For generations the people in St James parish have made this their own unique tradition now known all over the world.

But for the kids in the river parishes the question is, “how will Santa find my house?”

Well, this is the solution in  Cajun country.

Though the reason for the celebration is debated the custom experienced a revival in the 1950s.

Today, 1,300 residents build about 110 bonfires in St. James parish.

The Christmas Eve bonfires along the Mississippi river typically burn out just before midnight.

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