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CNN Today

Mississippi Begins Arduous Task of Recovery from Severe Storms

Aired February 26, 2001 - 4:23 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: It's now two days later in Northern Mississippi. There remains no escape from the aftermath of that deadly tornado which struck on Saturday night. The twister cut a path more than 20 miles long. Five people died. Other tornado deaths were reported in Kansas and in Arkansas and at least three deaths are being blamed on the very same weather system which struck in the form of very heavy snow for the North.

Joining us now with more on what the tornado did is Laurie Davison, of CNN KHBQ. She is in the area most hard hit in Mississippi. Can you tell us more of what's going on there, Laurie?

LAURIE DAVISON, KHBQ CORRESPONDENT: Well, I tell you, the devastation out here is absolutely remarkable. As you mentioned, this tornado did cut a path of about 23 miles. What you're seeing here is just a small, small portion of the damage to Pontotoc County. Trees here, down all over the place. You can see, they have got a lot of clothing hanging in the trees.

Also, down in the ravine, you can actually see that there is a car, if we can move back over to where the car is there. There is a car that is actually toppled over and it is sitting in the middle of the tree. And like I say, this is really just a small portion of the damage here.

Of course, a major cleanup effort is under way right now. Dozens of bulldozers here in the area. You can hear chainsaws going all over of the place. The governor of Mississippi, Ronnie Musgrove, was in town yesterday. He has already declared this a disaster area. They're trying to get on that just as quickly as they can to get federal assistance and money here to help people just as quickly as they can.

Now, dozens of people are left homeless here after this tornado. They are staying at a nearby National Guard armory about two miles or so from here. We talked to one man who actually lost a house to a fire just two months ago. He came home late Saturday night and find out now he has lost a second home to a tornado.

But remarkably, the spirit of people here is really very good. We're not seeing a lot of crying. We're in fact seeing really a lot of teamwork. The community very much coming together to help people affected by this storm. I think that the shock is sort wearing off and the reality now is beginning to come to them, but they say that they are definitely a community that is going to rebuild.

Reporting live from Pontotoc, Mississippi, Laurie Davidson. Back to you.

CHEN: Laurie, thanks for that report.

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