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   LAUREL, Miss. (AP) — The second floor of an activity center at a rural church in Mississippi collapsed during an evening youth service, sending about 70 people tumbling and leaving at least 15 people hurt, the church's pastor and authorities said.
   None of the injuries appeared life-threatening though a 16-year-old girl was taken to a hospital in Hattiesburg with a possible head injury after the floor collapse Wednesday evening, authorities said. The hospital told The Associated Press it had no information to release, while authorities said at least 15 others taken to hospitals had since been released.
   Pastor Tommy Davis at Freedom Baptist Church in Myrick told The Chronicle in Laurel that the floor at the activity center collapsed during a Wednesday evening youth service.
   "In the middle of the student service, the floor — which is a second-story floor — gave way, causing about 70 students to fall," Davis said. "But it's got to be said that no one was seriously injured, no one was trapped. God's hand was certainly taking care of the kids who were in that building."
   Spokeswoman Linda Gavin at the South Central Regional Medical Center, said at least 15 young people were treated there and all later released. She said the 16-year-old girl was taken to a Hattiesburg hospital with a possible head injury.
   Students said the collapse came unexpectedly while the service was under way.
   "We heard a huge rumble and the floor collapsed and people collapsed with it," said one 18-year-old female student.
   Witnesses said youngsters in the 7th to 12th grades were in the youth center for an evening service, adding most had cuts, scrapes, bruises and possibly some with broken bones.
   Dozens of those in the collapse were treated at the scene and released as worried relatives stood by amid the flashing lights of ambulances and emergency vehicles.
   Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge said the drop was about 12 feet in the floor collapse.
   Dispatcher Amanda Lofton at the Jones County Sheriff's Office told AP early Thursday she had no additional information to release and that authorities had no preliminary report on what caused the floor collapse.
Published in National News
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A new federal report says Mississippi officials accepted unsupported population growth estimates in developing a plan to use $653 million in federal Hurricane Katrina recovery money for water and wastewater facilities, including some that may not be needed.
 
The Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General also questioned appraisals used to buy private land.
 
In June 2012, The Associated Press reported on concerns raised by residents and officials concerning the population estimates and the use of eminent domain to acquire private land for projects that may not be needed for years, if ever.
 
Among other things, the report recommends that Mississippi put procedures in place so that future projects are based on "objective and relevant population data."
Published in National News
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 16:59

Suspect charged in deaths of 3 Miss. relatives

HAZLEHURST, Miss. (AP) - A man suspected in the slaying of three family members from Mississippi has been charged with murder and arson.

Authorities found the family's wrecked and burned vehicle Saturday in a remote area southwest of Jackson. Authorities say after questioning Timothy Lydell Burns, he led them to the bodies of a couple and a 7-year-old boy. They were in an abandoned house about a mile from the vehicle.

Burns was ordered held without bond Wednesday and attorney M.A. Bass was appointed to represent Burns. Bass could not immediately be reached for comment.

Burns was charged with two counts of murder and vehicle arson. Authorities say the third murder charge will likely come out of nearby Hinds County, where authorities think Laterry Smith, the boy's stepfather, was killed.

Published in National News

   ST. LOUIS (AP) - Rivers in the nation's heartland are rising yet again, and with heavy rain in the forecast, parts of Iowa, Missouri and Illinois are bracing for another round of flooding.

   The National Weather Service said Wednesday that 2 to 4 inches of rain will be common as strong storms fire up through Friday; some areas could see up to 6 inches.

   How bad things get will depend on how much rain falls and where.

   The weather service says a worst-case scenario would be widespread heavy rain along the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, and along the Missouri River. The Mississippi and many of its tributaries are already above flood stage, and the Missouri is getting close.

   Forecasters say the Mississippi could reach its highest level at St. Louis in nearly two decades.

Published in Local News

   A man and his teenage son are safe after being rescued from the Mississippi River Tuesday evening.  

   About 6 p.m. the two had become stranded when their johnboat snagged on debris near the Ameren Rush Island power plant about 12 miles south of Crystal City.  

   The Coast Guard was unable to launch an immediate rescue operation because their nearby boat launches were all underwater.  

   Crews from the Jefferson County R-7 Fire Department did get a boat in the water and rescued the pair just before 8 p.m.  

   Both the father and his 15 year old son were treated for exposure, but are expected to recover.

Published in Local News

   A flood warning remains in effect for communities along the Mississippi River, including St. Louis.  

   As of 9:30 PM Sunday, the river was at at 33.7 feet in St. Louis, 3.7 feet above flood stage.

   The sight of so much water swamping the levy is drawing gawkers, locals as well as tourists, to the Arch grounds.

   Plenty of sightseers spent a sunny Sunday afternoon snapping pictures of the rising river, the water covering Lenore K. Sullivan Blvd. and the lower steps of the Arch just off the roadway.

   But the high river levels mean the current is so swift, huge logs and debris are being swept downstream, a reminder of why it is called the Mighty Mississippi.

   That strong current pulled more than 100 barges loose Saturday night, several hitting the JB Bridge, forcing its closure while an inspection was conducted.  MoDOT's check of the bridge showed no damage, so the span was reopened.  

   The river, however, remains closed to traffic because of concerns that some sunken barges may be blocking the navigation channel.  And more rain, expected Monday night and Tuesday, means it could be closed for some time.

Published in Local News

   Flooding continues to be a problem in the St. Louis metro area as rain-swollen creeks remain out of their banks.  

   Now the National Weather Service is warning that the Mighty Mississippi will likely over-spill it's banks in the next few days.  A flood warning has been issued for communities along the river from Canton, Missouri -- north of Hannibal, to Chester, Illinois.  That warning includes the riverfront in St. Louis.  

   Officials say the Mississippi will rise above flood stage by Friday evening.  It's expected to crest at around 39.4 feet by Tuesday morning.  

Published in Local News

   What began as a river rescue is now a recovery operation.  

   A small fishing boat capsized on the Mississippi River Saturday afternoon, dumping two men and a 10 year old boy into the wind torn water.  

   A towboat crew found the boy and pulled him to safety.

   More than two dozen fire and rescue crews spent the day Sunday searching for the boy's step-father and another man, but both are still missing.  Hartford Fire Assistant Chief Bill Owens says they searched in the water and along the banks from Hartford, Illinois south to the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

   By Sunday afternoon Owens expressed little hope that the men would be found alive.  

   Owens says the boy was wearing a life jacket when he was pulled from the water.  It's not known if the men were wearing theirs, since two life jackets have been found in the area.

   Crews will resume searching Monday morning using sonar provided by the Illinois Conservation Department.  

 
Published in Local News

BENTON, Mo. (AP) - Two southeast Missouri teenagers missing since Saturday have been found in Mississippi.

 

The Southeast Missourian reports that 16-year-old Tyler Austin Crider and 15-year-old Hailey Nicole Haynes were found by police near Lexington, Miss., on Tuesday after the pickup truck they were in experienced trouble.

 

Scott County, Mo., Sheriff Rick Walter says the parents have been notified and were traveling to Mississippi to pick up the teens.

 

The teens left sometime after 10 p.m. Saturday. Tyler was staying at his grandparents' home near Sikeston at the time. His mother says he left a note on his pillow, then took a pickup truck registered to his grandparents and camping gear.

 

Hailey lives near Sikeston. Her mother says she left a note, too. Authorities believe Tyler picked her up.

Published in Local News
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - The people of Hattiesburg, Miss., are trying to assess the damage after a tornado tore through the city on Sunday.

It was part of a wave of severe storms that downed trees, damaged buildings and injured more than a dozen people.

The twister traveled down one of Hattiesburg's main streets and mangled homes, commercial buildings and structures on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. Emergency officials say at least 10 people were injured in surrounding Forrest County and three were hurt to the west in Marion County, but they aren't aware of any deaths.

A Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman says it appears that a single tornado caused the damage in those two counties and Lamar County. Hundreds of homes are damaged in Forrest County, along with a couple dozen in the other two.

On the campus of the university, trees were snapped in half around the heavily damaged Alumni House where part of the roof was ripped away. The university says no one was hurt but that it was under a state of emergency, anyone away from campus should stay away until further notice.
Published in National News

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