Gulf Coast storms batter Mississippi power grid

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GAUTIER, Miss. (AP) — A storm barreled through Mississippi Gulf Coast communities, damaging or destroying about a dozen RV trailers at one campground, downing trees and power lines and cutting electricity in some areas.

The storm blew through the Santa Maria RV Park in Gautier at around 8 p.m. Monday, knocking some trailers off their blocks and overturning or destroying others.

The roads leading up to the RV park were littered with debris, and none of the street lights were working. Despite the destruction in the park, only two people were injured, neither seriously, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

Park resident Harrold Robbins said he and his girlfriend Debbie Dales were getting ready for bed and he was at the front end of the camper they share when the wind hit.

"The front end flipped," he said after returning from a hospital where he was treated for bumps and bruises and Dales got stitches to her head. "It launched me back into the back end. Then it flipped over on the other side and came back up in the air and landed on our car."

Jessica Cook told television station WLOX she looked out her window after getting the alert that the storm was approaching and said to herself, "Well, that looks a little bad." She said that when the debris hitting the trailer got bad, she grabbed her son and they huddled together with his father.

"We were just holding each other and telling each other we loved each other because it was that bad," she said.

Cook said her home was knocked off its blocks, but her next-door-neighbor's was completely destroyed and he was pinned under it. She said the fire department managed to free him and he was taken to a hospital.

The National Weather Service doesn't think it was a tornado, meteorologist Robert Ricks told Biloxi newspaper the Sun Herald.

"It was straight-line winds of about 50 mph and none of the RVs were tied down," Ricks told the paper. "In talking with emergency management personnel, there were no power lines down. It appears to be because of the straight-line winds in an RV park configuration without tie-downs."

Jay Huffstatler, a Red Cross official, told WLOX that all of the displaced RV park residents apparently had somewhere else to spend the night.

Keith Davis, the police chief in nearby Moss Point, said there were downed power lines and trees there. He said one power line caught fire but it was quickly extinguished.

A severe thunderstorm warning had been in effect in advance of a strong cold front moving into the region.

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