Personal Accounts of the Outbreak...
I was 8 years old when it hit, living in Florence at the time. For some reason that night both my sisters and my little brother all slept in my room. I remember my dad running down the hallway screaming for us to take cover, he was throwing us under the bed since we had no time to get into the hallway. It was so loud the sound was terrifying. By the time it was over my room was detached from the house and we were sitting on the ground. All the windows had been busted out and the bed we were all sleeping in had sticks sticking into it. When we walked outside, our house was surrounded by a perfect circle of trees that had been blown down. You had to climb over a tree to get out of the yard. I still have the scar on my foot where glass stuck into it. But the Lord was truly watching over us that night. It was truly one of the scariest moments in my life. I do not have any pictures but I wish I did.
--- Rachel McCollum
I remember getting out of the bed that night and walking in the living room with my mom. My dad was on the couch. When my mom opened the door my dad said he felt the apartment building shake. Well the next morning I talked to a guy and he said that he saw it...because of the lighting.
I saw the rotation go over Brookhaven at 1 a.m. I was 13 at the time. My dad said he could hear it. Trees were damaged on our street.
-- Chris Carter
My grandparents were killed in that tornado outbreak in Cumberland, Ms; 1992 - Merle and Thelma Benjamin were their names.
-- Gale Pate
I can still tell where the Brandon tornado crossed I-20 before hitting the cul-de-sac in Eastgate.
It also did some major damage in Leake County. My best friend, her husband and 14 month old son had just moved back to Leake County following Operation Desert Storm. That night, they lost everything they had - and almost lost their son. I'll never forget that storm.
-- Denise Mason White
This tornado came down Seventh Day Adventist Rd in Florence. I was on the volunteer fire department and a junior at Florence High. We worked from the time it hit until the next morning doing search and rescue. So many lives were destroyed that night...I remember it like it was yesterday, some of the faces you never forget...my friends' homes were destroyed and so many people were displaced. Lives were lost that night and the town of Florence and all its residents pulled together as one big family...thank y'all for remembering.
--Jason and Christie Harrison
It was Saturday, November 21, 1992. My Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Husband and I were all outside that afternoon commenting on the falling leaves and the unseasonably warm, humid weather that day. We had all seen this type of weather before, and knew that storms would soon come.
We had company that night for supper. We ate, played some cards, and the guests left fairly early. I remember as they were leaving, it was lightning way off toward the southwest. A long way off though -
I have always been terrified of storms. This night was no different. My husband went to bed around 10:30. I stayed up because the storms were getting closer. Constant lightning, but we still had power which at that time was highly unusual. I recall a severe thunderstorm warning being issued for Rankin County around 11:35 or so. I decided about 15 minutes later, that this was all it was going to be, and I could head to bed. At midnight I got into bed. My husband was sound asleep and popped straight up in bed. He said words I never knew could haunt the way they still do - "That is the longest, loudest, damndest thunder I have ever heard in my life". We live about 8 miles east of Brandon and through the woods, about 3 miles from areas northeast of Brandon that are located off Trickhambridge Road. Little did we know then, it was a monster tornado.
About 12:20 a.m., the phone rang. It was Helga, Dispatcher, at the Brandon Police Department. Helga is from Germany and her accent only accentuated the urgency. "You, Mike, come to town - NOW..Tornado has hit." We immediately jumped up and got dressed. Walking out the door, George Bobo, then Public Works Director for the city called and told us to meet him at the Downtown Chevron. We drove there and waited. No visible signs on our way of a storm. People were scurrying around. Mr. Parrow from Easthaven told of people out searching for two little boys. My heart raced. George finally got there and told us to go to Duncan Mobile Homepark first. I thought this was strange, because this was not in the city limits. I guess I looked crazy at him, and George repeated go there first. We got on S. College Street to make our way to the mobile homepark. All of a sudden, there it was. Huge trees and power lines were over the road. We worked our way to Highway 468. Just past Windsong Subdivision, we could not drive any further. We realized at that time why George had sent us to Duncan. We looked at each other and ran. Our ex brother-in-law and dear friend, lived at Duncan. We got to where we thought his home was located and there was absolutely nothing there. Nothing. It was all gone. People were crying and screaming. It was the worse event I had ever witnessed. We couldn't find Phillip. The only thing we could conclude was that he had been lost in the storm. Law enforcement asked us to please leave and they would keep us updated.
We got back to Brandon around 3:00 a.m. Mike went to work clearing roads. I went to the office and answered phone calls and called for assistance as needed. We finally heard from Phillip about 5:00 a.m. He had stayed in Jackson at a friend's home that night. Praise the Lord, he was alright.
We worked non-stop for 48 hours. Then daylight to dark. On Wednesday, Ms. Smith called from her hospital room asking for someone to please find a stuffed bear that was in her home that was wiped from its foundation. She wanted to bury it with her son who was killed in the tornado. She also lost her husband. Her family and I searched the property and then a storage area where items had been gathered in recovery efforts. We never found the bear. Two other boys, neighbors, were staying with the Smith's that night. They were killed too.
There were so many other things that happened in the days, weeks and months to follow that were heart breaking and others that were so heartwarming. The love and support that people showed our community was overwhelming.
I remember so many other things, but these are the things that I remember the most. Everyone who lived in Brandon during this night has a story - some much worse and some of the love that came from others and those who were spared. In April of 2003, another tornado, not as strong, cut through Brandon on almost the exact path of the 1992 monster. By God's mercy, there were no fatalities.
-- Cathy Goolsby
Thank you to all who shared your personal accounts and memories of this devastating historical event. We know that storms and other weather features that we monitor sometimes have very serious and potentially deadly consequences. It is always our top priority to warn residents of the potential for dangerous events to the best of our ability.