F2 Strikes, Region 8 Residents Begin Cleanup

October 19, 2004 – Posted at 1:34 p.m. CDT

COOTER -- The twister that touched down Monday night in southern Pemiscot County destroyed homes, claimed three lives, and sent one man to the hospital in serious condition. Residents say the storm may have taken their homes, but it didn't take their spirit.

"Cooter is a small town and everybody knows everybody," said Pemiscot County Sheriff Deputy Jimmy Alsup, "Anything that goes on in the Steele or the Cooter area, the people really come together."

It wasn't hard to find a helping hand Tuesday morning after an F2 tornado touched down near Cooter.

"It's not a pretty site. A lot of stuff that we can't even find because it's buried, so we're going to have to get something in here like backhoes or something till we get everything. So that's what we've been doing...it's been pretty rough," said Ed Connell who helped with the clean up.

And it's pretty big mess to clean up. Winds over 120 miles per hour scattered cotton modules in every direction, creating a landscape of a snowstorm of cotton.

"It's a large area. Two homes are destroyed, a farm shop, a wood shop. He had a neat little business that is completely destroyed and the farm equipment too," said Alsup.

Folks in Cooter say it's tough to loose three people in such a tight knit community. But this is not the first time a tornado has hit this town. Alan Barger remembers stories his father told him of a tornado that hit on the other side of a bridge next to yesterday's devastation in 1952.

"He was just south of the bridge when he was 10 years old. And one came through here about the same speed; I think they said an F3 or an F2. I believe that's what they reported and it killed quiet a few people back then. He was carried across a field and my grandmother was carried across a field and it was about as bad as this," said Barger.

And now, more than 50 years later, a community must come together to rebuild.

"Time will only tell. We just have to wait and see how everyone is recovering that's in the hospital and we'll just have to go from there," said Alsup.

The victims have been identified as Jaime Smith, Joyce Crossknow and Roy Tims, all of Cooter.