John Smith of 50 Wintergreen Drive works to cover his roof following Friday’s EF-1 tornado that went through Madison.
John Smith of 50 Wintergreen Drive works to cover his roof following Friday’s EF-1 tornado that went through Madison.
Sandalwood was one of the Madison neighborhoods hit hardest  where Wintergreen Drive bore the brunt of the storm.

Gaye Smith said she and her husband John were out of town when the storm hit, but were quickly notified by a neighbor, Wendy Ellis, that a large tree, regarded as one of the largest and oldest in the neighborhood, had fallen in their front yard.

“Our neighbor was able to get us through FaceTime five minutes after it happened,” Smith said. “Me and my husband were five hours away on vacation, but we know we needed to get home as soon as possible. We left early the next morning.”

Ellis said she knew the rain was coming and had just brought her dogs in before the now confirmed EF-1 tornado hit shortly after 5:15 p.m. Friday.

“I was sitting on the bed and I looked outside and trees were swaying and stuff was flying everywhere,” Ellis said. “That's when I knew it was a tornado.”

All in all, Ellis said the event lasted about four minutes.

“I couldn’t hear anything and I really didn’t know exactly what had happened until it stopped and I looked outside and saw the big tree across the street was down,” Ellis said. “That's when I started making phone calls.”

Volunteers and first responders were on-scene soon after the storm.

Rowland Hall, Community Impact Pastor at Broadmoor Baptist Church, has been directing volunteers through their church. He said a lot of what they have offered is “being there” in these residents’ time of need, but also got to work clearing debris and helping in houses.

‘This really wasn’t anticipated by anyone,” Hall said. “It was kind of like kicking an anthill.”

Hall said that they have been helping families put their lives back together while they wait on their insurance companies.

Dr. Shane Mcgivney is the Mississippi Baptist Convention disaster response director and he said he has been directing crews since Saturday morning when they came to assess damage. They made out 10 work orders.

“We have a bunch of certified and trained people to respond to situations like this. It is an opportunity for us to come out and demonstrate the love of Christ to people in need,” Mcgivney said.

Smith said that between the MBCB, MEMA, Madison first responders and other volunteers they look to repair their home, which was severely damaged in the back.

‘Everyone has been just absolutely wonderful, there is no other way to describe it,” Smith said. “We still don’t have power but the police department has a mobile unit out here and plenty of volunteers.”

Ellis, who only suffered some light damage to her home and a privacy fence, said she was glad that the storm was not more severe.

“It is a really scary event. Its hard to grasp what it is like until you experience something like it,” Ellis said. “I am just glad it wasn’t bigger than it is and that no one was hurt.”

According to Madison County Emergency Management Director Albert Jones, there were 42 houses impacted by the tornado and weather. Of those, 24 were classified as major.

Damage was also done to some hangars and planes at Bruce Campbell Field in Madison.

Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee noted that an awning at Hite B. Wolcott Park took roughly $35,000 in wind damage.