YAZOO CITY, Miss. – YAZOO CITY, Miss. (AP) — A quiet, lovable 78-year-old great-grandmother was among the 10 victims of a Mississippi tornado that devastated part of the state.
Stella Martin, a devout Baptist and homemaker who had a daughter, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, died when the storm destroyed her mobile home Saturday near Yazoo City, said Martin's sister, Grace Coker.
Coker also lived in a mobile home, just steps away from her sister and brother-in-law, but she left to stay with other relatives as the storm approached. When the tornado hit, it picked up the Martins' house and slammed it into Coker's, leaving behind an almost indistinguishable pile of rubble.
Martin's husband, Mills, was injured and it took rescue crews several hours to reach him and airlift him to a hospital. The only thing that saved him was he was near a refrigerator, which prevented him from being crushed by debris, authorities said.
Coker was composed as she dug through what was left of her house, but started crying when a friend stopped by to check on her.
"I will stay with my granddaughter until I make some decisions," Coker said. "I have a big family. I'm not worried about where I'm going to sleep."
Here's a look at some of the other stories of people killed by the tornado:
Elizabeth Nicole "Nikki" Bradshaw Carpenter
Elizabeth Nicole "Nikki" Bradshaw Carpenter, 31, had three sons — 6-year-old Layne, 3-year-old Ethan and 2-year-old Austin, said her best friend Elizabeth Tamar King of Yazoo City.
"She was the best mom she could be," said King, who often babysat the boys.
King said she and Carpenter had been friends since they were young teenagers. She said Carpenter graduated from Yazoo City High School in 1997 and attended Holmes Community College and Delta State University. King said Carpenter left Delta State about one credit shy of graduating and worked as a U.S. Postal Service carrier in Madison and Ridgeland while still living in Yazoo City. Carpenter left the postal job to be a stay-at-home mom and was planning to start nursing school next year, King said.
"She was a great person," King said. "If she could do anything to help you, she would."
James Harrison, a heavy equipment operator and Navy veteran, was in his bed when the storm blew two trees on his trailer, pinning him underneath in Yazoo County. His sister, Shirley Reeves, said Harrison was a caring person, who had lost his wife to throat cancer a few years ago.
"He would do anything for anybody," Reeves said.
The Rev. Esley Brown
Seventy-year-old Rev. Esley Brown died after the storm threw him from his house into an open field across the road, said Holmes County Coroner Dexter Howard. Brown lived on Ebenezer Road in Holmes County, a rural area in the Mississippi Delta region.
Associated Press Writer Holbrook Mohr contributed to this report.