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National Weather Service confirms EF-2 tornado in Mansfield

Staff Photographer: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

This is what is left of a mobile home that was torn off its foundation when a tornado struck Mansfield Friday afternoon. The home was located at Kellogg and Hardman Streets in Mansfield.

Staff Photographer: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith This is what is left of a mobile home that was torn off its foundation when a tornado struck Mansfield Friday afternoon. The home was located at Kellogg and Hardman Streets in Mansfield.

MANSFIELD — Several homes were destroyed and one woman was injured when an EF-2 tornado touched down in Mansfield Friday afternoon, shattering some homes and tossing others off their foundations.

According to Newton County Fire Services, reports of wind damage in Mansfield started coming in around 1:15 p.m. Friday. Fire Services Chief Kevin O’Brien said when emergency personnel arrived in the small eastern Newton County town, they discovered the bulk of the damage was at the intersection of Kellogg and Hardeman streets, where “four to five homes were completely destroyed.”

The National Weather Service confirmed Friday afternoon that an EF-2 tornado — which is when winds are between 110 and 115 miles per hour — hit the area near downtown Mansfield near City Hall. The tornado was 175 yards wide and left a path of damage 7.5 miles long.

Deputy Director Jody Nolan of Newton County Emergency Risk/Management said six to eight homes in Mansfield suffered moderate damage and a multitude had minor damage. He said power was purposely shut down to the city for part of Friday since several power lines also were knocked down.

O’Brien said one woman was trapped in her home and had to be extricated by emergency personnel. She was taken to Clearview Medical Center in Monroe with what was reported to be non-life-threatening injuries.

About 15 residents were displaced from their homes; they are being sheltered at the Mansfield Community Center and assisted by the American Red Cross.

The Salvation Army’s Covington location also was serving drinks, snacks and meals to relief workers and victims of the storm. Jody Carver, director of the Covington service center, said the disaster team captain, Todd Newman, was in the area eating, so he helped rescue some people and then went to retrieve the van that serves those in need.

Residents reported that they heard no tornado sirens before the storm.

Nolan said neither a tornado watch nor a warning were issued by the National Weather Service, but a severe thunderstorm warning was issued just prior to damage being reported. He warned that although a thunderstorm warning doesn’t mean a tornado is imminent, it does mean they can occur.

Some residents said they thought the storm sounded like a train or like something running over the nearby railroad tracks, but others said they heard nothing more than heavy rain.

“I was taking a nap, and I woke up and went outside, and everybody was here,” said Brandon Hays, whose home sustained minor damage.

The cities of Monroe and Newborn, as well as area residents, responded to the scene to assist in cleanup.

Mary Filkins was in a mobile home on Kellogg Street when the storm hit.

“The electricity went off and then the windows started blowing out and glass was everywhere,” she said, shaken. Eventually, the walls buckled out, making the trailer uninhabitable, like the few that were in the area.

Wayne Whitten said he’s lived in his home since 1966 and in the area since 1954 and has never seen a tornado. An F1 tornado hit Newborn in 2011; Nolan said the eastern area of Newton County is an area prone to tornadoes.

Officials with the Newton County School System said no damage was sustained to Mansfield Elementary School, and students were dismissed as normal.

News editor Barbara Knowles and staff reporter Michelle Floyd contributed to this report.