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USM Student from Jackson Glad to be Safe after Tornado

By WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News Staff
By news@wbbjtv.com

HATTIESBURG, Miss.- Monday night, the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg was quiet. 24 hours before, a confirmed EF-4 tornado ripped through the town and campus.

Storm Team 7 Chief Forecaster Gary Pickens' daughter, Anna, who is a student at USM, sent pictures of the damage from Sunday's tornado.

She told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that six buildings on campus were destroyed or damaged. Students were told to stay away from campus.

Pickens said she and other students are getting ready to help in the university's recovery effort.

"We are all on a holding pattern. Just waiting for them to tell us what to do because they've already organized for tomorrow , the students are going to get together and start working on the university to get everything back to normal the best that we can," said Anna Pickens, student at USM.

Emergency workers in Hattiesburg reported more than 60 people were injured, but no lives were lost.

Experts credit the nearly 30-minute warning and the fact that many USM students were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras in helping to save lives.

More than 200 homes were damaged or destroyed.