Dec. 17--GUNTOWN -- The day after a regional storm hit northern Lee County with a tornado, victims picked through the debris on a cold and overcast morning while volunteers and government officials lent a helping hand and took stock of the damage.
Brad Poynor stepped carefully over splintered boards and dangling wires as he gingerly opened the back door of the home where he lives on Colt Lane, in the Guntown Hills subdivision.
The Monday afternoon tornado ripped off the roof over Poyner's living room. As he survey the damage Tuesday morning, soggy pink insulation and drywall covered the floor. A pair of light fixtures danging from the ceiling. Family photos, once on the fridge, were half covered by debris on the floor.
Poynor rode out the storm in a bedroom closet with his stepson.
"You heard like a cannon going off in your ears and then we walked out and it was calm," Poynor said.
As he left the bedroom, he realized how hard the home was hit.
"Everything was gone," he said.
Poyner was not alone.
Early estimates from local officials indicate somewhere between 60 and 75 homes in Lee County are damaged, and assessments remain ongoing.
The Lee County School District estimated that 30 to 40 students within the district were impacted by the storm, and absences will be excused.
"There has already been an outpouring of help from across the district and Lee County community," said Robert Byers, external communications officer for the district.
He said the district is "extremely thankful for this."
On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency for all areas affected by the storm damage.
"We do not believe this will rise to a presidential declaration, but we will seek out all levels of support we can get."
MEMA officials estimate that 15 people have been injured, but no deaths have been officially reported.
MEMA officials estimate that there are between 9,000 and 11,000 homes without power and said utility workers are trying to restore power as quickly as possible with the cold weather coming into the state.
Blake Alsup and Taylor Vance, of the Daily Journal, contributed to this report.
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