Extensive damage at the University of Southern Mississippi on Hardy Street in Hattiesburg Miss., Feb 10, 2013 after a tornado passed through the city Sunday afternoon. (AP Photo/Hattiesburg American, Ryan Moore)
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Hattiesburg, Miss. -
Dozens of people in Mississippi were injured in a tornado strike across three counties. One area hit hard was Hattiesburg. Some observers are calling it the "Miracle on 34th Street" -- several homes were destroyed, but no one was killed.
Al Caceres and his 93-year-old mother, who was brought to a caretaker's Monday, survived as a powerful tornado ripped through the heart of town.
All through Hattiesburg, residents poked through the debris of what's left, trying to find medications, keepsakes, and valuables.
"It's terrible. My bedroom got a big hole in it. Water's coming in," said Hattiesburg resident Glenda Mason.
60 people were injured by the storm that crossed through Forrest, Marion and Lamar Counties, but causing the most damage in Hattiesburg. Standing by what's left of his home, Al Caceres said, "There's like a river of water in the house, reminds me of Katrina."
The tornado caused damage on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. Massive damage is evident at old Elam Hall, where hundreds of students used to live. Fortunately no one lives there now.
"It's just shocking to me to see it like this. Everything's gone or ruined, it's scary," said student Page Odom.
Most students were gone Sunday for the Mardi Gras break, but Odom remained to work at her off-campus job. "At first it was dead quiet, and then like a big boom. It sounded like a vacuum cleaner to be honest," she said.
The good news is that storm sirens worked, allowing victims to go to the center of their homes before the storm ripped them apart. Mississippi officials believe the storm sirens likely saved dozens of lives.
Many are now looking for other places to stay. But all are happy, they survived the latest tornado to strike in an increasingly active Dixie Alley.
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