A World Turned Over: A Killer Tornado and the Lives It Changed Forever
""In the dream I see the yellowing Mississippi sky...I feel the edges of the wind, quick and rough a and nearer than l ever believed it could be, cutting an undertow in the now unbreathable air, It is close now, stealing by degrees across the pasture that spreads like a dark, lake behind the store, its black belly bulging straight out as it begins to feed on scrub pine, then on the girded steel of the supermarket, on /be cars once parked in even rows, on living tissue pliant as clay. if there is time, then there is nothing to do but run.""At 4:33 P.M. on March 3, 1966, an F-5 tornado, the deadliest category, struck central Mississippi, killing fifty-seven people. Fourteen of those victims died in South Jackson, thirteen of them in a newly built shopping mall, the Candlestick Shopping Center. In minutes, what had been a row of nearly maintained shops was transformed into a scene of unimaginable devastation. Lives were changed forever. "A World Turned Over "recounts what happened on the day of the Candlestick Tornado, as it came to be known in Jackson, and how its aftermath still reverberates today.
Returning to the neighborhood where she grew up, Lorian Hemingway remembers the Jackson that she knew: a Southern town defined as much by its warm creeks and catfish ponds and the smell of clay in the air as by its inhabitants -- families with a deep sense of place and of community. When the tornado struck, it destroyed more than buildings and it reached beyond the deaths it caused. For those people who, like Hemingway, grew up there, Jackson changed in an instant from a safe and familiar place into an alien landscape of death and destruction.
Hemingway vividly re-creates the day ofthe tornado, drawing on both news stories and interviews with survivors. She tells us about Donna Durr, who with her baby was lifted in her car seventy-five feet up into the vortex; Juland Jones, who worked at the local hot dog shop and was the only African-American to die at Candlestick; eighteen-year-old Ronny Hannis, who survived to help rescue others, oblivious to his own life-threatening wounds inflicted by broken flying glass and debris. Returning to the scene more than thirty years later, Hemingway finds many of the survivors and their families still in Jackson, their memories now as much a part of the landscape as the creeks and fields. "A place does not love you," she writes, "only people do, but a place gives up what it is made of in an elemental rush, so that once you breathe it in, the chemistry in you changes."
As lyrical as it is haunting, "A World Turned Over" is an unforgettable story of awesome destruction and the extraordinary resilience of ordinary people, a moving exploration of faith and hope in the face of tragedy.