Multimedia StoryTelling

By the students of MCJ300 at The University of Southern Mississippi

Screams, Sirens & Chainsaws: The Tornado of Hattiesburg

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The last nine days in Hattiesburg can be summed up in three words: screams, sirens and chainsaws.

February 10th, 2013. Location: My apartment. People: Me, 2 friends (Ashley and Miles) and my boyfriend (Brad.)


“Is this a tornado?!” “Holy **** that’s a tornado!” The four of us stood on the balcony (yes, the 2nd floor) of my apartment and stared at the tornado. We were quiet for about 5 hours. (That’s what it felt like.) Soon the screams started coming from my neighbors. “Come down here!! Get off the top floor!!” We ran downstairs where some people were screaming for us to get inside, some people were screaming for us to get into a car and drive in the opposite direction and I know my mom was screaming for me to answer my phone. When I finally did answer the phone I am positive that she didn’t want to hear what I had to say: “I’m fine… But yeah… I’m staring at a tornado.” And that’s what we did. We stood in the parking lot of my apartment and watched a massive tornado rip through our city. As soon as the tornado was out of sight, my friend said I should take pictures. I immediately thought, “Duh, Jana.” I ran upstairs and started packing my camera bag and lacing up my boots. I ran back outside to find my friends excitedly discussing what we’d just witnessed. I looked at my boyfriend and said, “I have to go take pictures now.” He stared at me, took a deep breath and with a commanding voice said, “Ok, we have to go now! Who’s coming?!” At that point all I remember is confusion as my two friends, my boyfriend and I threw raincoats, boots and camera equipment at one another. We hopped in Miles’ Trailblazer and drove straight to campus, where we knew the tornado was minutes earlier.


As I stood in the middle of Hardy Street and stared at a truck smashed in the median and a gas station ripped apart, the sirens started. Cop cars, firetrucks and ambulances were surrounding the area in minutes. And the sirens lasted for what seemed like forever. For hours all I could hear was the shutter on my camera and sirens.


The next morning I stood on my balcony at 5:30 and begged the sun to come up. I was desperate to start making more photos. And it’s a good thing I was out so early. Chainsaws. Hattiesburg can claim one thing, for sure. We have chainsaws and we have people who know how to use them. The next morning as I ventured out with my camera I was blown away. There were no more screams and no more sirens. There were chainsaws. Everywhere. Hattiesburg quickly became infested with volunteers. I walked for miles and miles that Monday morning and I saw the same thing everywhere I went. People with chainsaws, wheelbarrows and rakes. There was not a moment wasted. The people of Hattiesburg, USM and Mississippi have blown my mind with the effort they have put into cleaning up the devastation.

Of all the sounds that came with the tornado, the chainsaw is my favorite. We will rebuild.



Written by ijanah

February 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm

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