‘If you get hit, it ain’t little,’ Pascagoula resident says of Friday’s twister

Small tornado takes buildings

CrossFit on Market Street was a casualty of Friday's later night tornado. Business owner hopes to reopen Wednesday in its original location.
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CrossFit on Market Street was a casualty of Friday's later night tornado. Business owner hopes to reopen Wednesday in its original location.

The tornado that hit Pascagoula late Friday night may have been considered small, but “if you get hit, it ain’t little,” one observer said.

The twister took out a bait shop along the water at the foot of the high-rise bridge into Pascagoula, sucked the roof off of a large portion of the City Recreation Department’s gym on Pascagoula Street (the old high school gym) and skipped over to Market Street where it threw bleachers from the soccer fields into the back glass wall of the CPA office next door to Anderson’s Bakery.

But the hardest hit was Singing River CrossFit, owned and operated by Vincent “Top” Jackson, at the corner of Market Street and Ingalls Avenue.

The National Weather Service considered it an EF-1, or low-level tornado.

The tornado took the roof off the CrossFit gym, blew out the glass in the building that had once been a service station, and damaged equipment, especially the electronics.

Jackson decided to salvage what he could and move back to the Market Street building where the business used to operate. He had moved so he could grow and expand.

A crew of gym members were helping him rig equipment and salvage mats, hoping to be reopened by Wednesday.

“It looks like we took the brunt of the damage,” Jackson said Monday. Police officials notified him of the damage at 11:32 p.m. Friday. He and members worked to secure and relocate over the weekend.

“We’re such a family, I’m blessed,” he said. Another blessing may come from the owner of the building that was destroyed. He said he believes the owner will demolish and rebuild, allowing changes to the building that would benefit the thriving CrossFit business.

But on Monday, it was salvage mode.

Emily Clark, a member for two years, was helping unbolt equipment and relocate mats. She said the exercise program didn’t rely heavily on exercise machines, but rather a lot of free weights and running in town. They did have stationary bikes and rowing machines.

The city notified parents with children in the city summer camp program that it would meet at Trent Lott Academy instead of the city gym, while that building is assessed. Darcie Crew, head of the Recreation Department, said the program will move back to the gym next week if they determine the temporary roof repairs hold through the rains that are expected this week.

People along Washington Avenue, a prominent residential street that parallels Beach Boulevard, said they didn’t hear a thing as the twister was coming through. That area was covered in downed limbs and broken trees on Saturday, but was mostly cleaned up on Monday.

It split a tree and twisted a portion of it over onto the home of Evelyn Jones, who lives off Swordfish and Washington Avenue.

“We slept through it and didn’t know it hit,” Jones said.

She and her sister-in-law, Mazie Grady, were in the house Friday night. The next morning, they couldn’t get down the driveway, there were so many limbs and trees down.

She said they were shocked when they came out and saw the damage on Saturday morning.

“I’m glad I didn’t know,” she said. “I would have worried most of the night in the house, wondering what was torn up out there.”