Miss. tornado survivor: 'I'm alive, but the town's gone' - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Miss. tornado survivor: 'I'm alive, but the town's gone'

An EF-5 tornado decimated the tiny town of Smithville, MS. (Source: CNN) An EF-5 tornado decimated the tiny town of Smithville, MS. (Source: CNN)

SMITHVILLE, MS (RNN) - The National Weather Service has determined a twister that struck Smithville, MS during Wednesday's deadly tornado outbreak was an EF-5, producing winds of 205 miles per hour.

An EF-5 rating is the highest and rarest rating on the Enhanced Fujita scale.

The tornado was on the ground for a little less than three miles, but took 14 lives and destroyed much of the tiny town of around 900 in the process.

In all, 18 homes were destroyed and 40 injured.

Jane Cantrell, the Smithville deputy clerk, took cover under the town hall's boardroom table just minutes before the tornado hit.

"We heard the train sound. It was the most horrendous sound of a train you've ever heard in your life," she said. "We could tell things were hitting the building, then we could tell there probably was no building."

While the table held firm, protecting her, the mayor, and another co-worker who took cover beneath it, the building around her vanished.

"Nothing fell on the board table and we didn't get hurt, but everything around us was gone," she recalled. "I took my cell phone out and called my husband and said 'I'm alive, but the town's gone.'"

The half-wide mile tornado was the first EF-5 tornado in Mississippi in 45 years. The last EF-5 struck Jackson in 1966.

"The cars are so mangled, you can't even tell what they are," Cantrell said. "It might leave a little portion of one house, but another house is completely gone. Nearly every house has roof damage or trees in the yard, carports are gone. There's hardly anything that wasn't touched."

Cantrell said the Red Cross and Salvation Army have arrived and are helping the people of the town in a time of need.

In the meantime …

"We just need people to pray for us," she said. "It's going to take a lot to get us back up and going."

While she helps her neighbors rebuild, she's thankful for another day with the ones she loves, including a 15-month-old granddaughter who she says is the joy of her life.

"That table didn't save me, the Lord saved me. He's not ready for me to go. I'm just thankful he spared me."

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