Soso fire chief recalls Easter Sunday tornado a year later

SOSO, Miss. (WDAM) – Monday, April 12 marks the one-year anniversary of the 2020 Easter Sunday tornado outbreak that devastated communities in the Pine Belt.

One of the hardest hit areas was the town of Soso, where the tornado destroyed many buildings, including the town’s fire department.

Easter Sunday is normally a day normally filled with worship, family and Easter egg hunts. It’s a day meant to be filled with happiness.

But Easter Sunday 2020 was anything but. Chief Anthony Pitts of the Soso Volunteer Fire Department remembers that faithful day.

“I remember we were at home,” Pitts said. “I believe we had been to church that morning, I’m sure we had. I said to my wife, ‘Let’s go to the station because if it drops, I’d rather walk away from here where I have the equipment than try to get from my house to here.’ »

He didn’t know it at the time, but at 4:52 p.m. he was going to have to put this plan into action.

“The wind was blowing one way and then started to change direction,” Pitts said. “And I said, ‘No, the doors are going to have to come down. We are about to be affected. And that’s the point that I knew it wasn’t going to get around us. We were going to take a hit. »

The small town of Soso was in the storm’s path with a large tornado on the ground.

“We entered the hallway. I watched the roof above the trucks leave,” Pitts said. “Lots of broken glass, lots of wind and lots of pressure, and then it was just gone.”

Pitts knew he had to begin rescue efforts immediately, but there was a big problem.

“I couldn’t get a truck out,” Pitts said. “The trucks were in the building [and were] won’t move. The forward post beam holding the front of the building between Engine 1 and Engine 2 was moved back approximately 6 feet. Thus, the doors were collapsed. The tanker stall had collapsed onto the tanker. So I started digging, trying to find material. Get a chainsaw. Get everything I could, to start trying to make my way to people.

With few resources, he began to pave a way for outside help to reach the city.

“Within minutes they were trying to get to me, trying to cut us off,” Pitts said. “I know Calhoun, Hebron, and Pleasant Ridge all came this way. Wayne County came and they were trying to cut us off. Our first effort was to go up Feed Mill Road because we knew we had a lot of damage there. And Wayne County was trying to cut off Feed Mill Road to get to me.

The next day, firefighters were able to free their buried trucks.

“A trail hoe that ended up here, he picked up the front of the building, we chased the trucks,” Pitts said. “He then removed the side of the tanker stand and we parked them in the parking lot. So we’ve been in a parking lot ever since.

And for nearly a year, this is where the fire department has faithfully responded to every call. But that will change very soon.

In fact, they plan to move into their brand new fire station later this month.

“Well, it’s a 50 by 130 feet. It’s five bays, where we only had three bays [before]. It will consist of an office, meeting room, bathroom and full kitchen,” Pitts said. “Where if something like this happens again and if we survive, we can have a place to stay if he gets our house or our members’ houses.”

And while he hopes it never happens again, the town of Soso can rest assured that Pitts and his volunteers will always be there to answer the call.

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Alicia R. Rucker