Sunday's tornado at Miss. college resonates at Jonesboro campus

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Mississippi residents begin cleaning up after Sunday night's violent tornado carved a path 75 miles long.

The twister struck the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, damaging 6 university buildings.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant says 63 people were sent to the hospital, but there were no fatalities.

What if a strong tornado hit Arkansas State University?

Just after midnight on May 27th, 1973, a tornado touched down on the southeast corner of A.S.U. campus.

The twister destroyed two trailers in Indian Village before ransacking Jonesboro.

Nearly 40 years later...much has changed.

The campus spans nearly 1,400 acres and is loaded with 145 buildings.

Safety supervisor D.A. Davis uses his prior experience with tornadoes to better prepare this campus.

"If we have a tornado warning, they try to get everybody moved to the lower floors, preferably an underground floor if there is one. The university police will open up the basement of Arkansas Hall, as well as the basement of the lab science building."

Davis says only a handful of on-campus buildings still stand decades after the devastating tornado.

Kays, University, and Arkansas Halls are made of sturdy concrete and steel.

They have a high rating against tornadoes.

"If a student were in the hallway, they would be surrounded by reinforced concrete. It may blow the windows out, but it would be very unlikely to blow the building down."

But new housing has emerged from the rocky red soil and their walls may not be quite as wind-resistant as their predecessors.

"The 2 and 3 story apartment-style structures, which of course are wood-frame construction. They're just not as substantial as concrete reinforced steel."

While each student is responsible for their own safety, Davis says Residence Life does training with their staff in case severe weather strikes.

"Overall, the campus is stronger. Of course, building codes are a lot better than they were. So any new structure would be considerably more substantial than a structure built many years ago."

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