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Power returns to Mississippi town after storm; volunteers help; coroner identifies 4 dead

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COLUMBIA, Mississippi — Workers restored power Thursday to tornado-scarred Columbia, while volunteers helped clear rubble, cover roofs and do whatever else they could to help the Mississippi town recover.

"We figured, what better time to show the love of Jesus than on his birthday?" Ed Brashier, minister of a church in Gardendale Alabama, told WDAM-TV (http://bit.ly/1thrm6V ) on Christmas.

Tornadoes killed four people in southwest Mississippi on Tuesday as a storm system kicked off twisters across the region.

Marion County coroner Norma Williamson identified one of those killed as Amber Sumrall, 33, of Sandy Hook. Sumrall died after being trapped in the Head-to-Toe beauty salon where she worked, Williamson told The Hattiesburg American (http://hatne.ws/1veVsC9 ).

She also confirmed the identity of MaryJean Sartin. Elizabeth Bordelon told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Sartin, her 73-year-old grandmother, and an aunt who was hospitalized with injuries, were trapped when a neighbor's trailer home flipped onto theirs.

Leonardo Drummond and Josie White were killed when a tornado hit their mobile home in Laurel, WAPT-TV (http://bit.ly/1vt4aO6 ) reported. The property's owners told the station they asked the couple to come to their house to be safe, but Drummond and White decided to stay.

The storm system's first tornado spun off in Amite, Louisiana, and had winds up to 115 mph, the National Weather Service said. It damaged some houses and knocked over many trees, but no injuries were reported.

The system moved northeast into Mississippi, hitting Columbia and Lauren with powerful twisters, according to the agency's Jackson website.

Red Cross Regional Officer Bob Devaney said his crews counted about 50 damaged homes between Marion and Jones counties.

The storm cut power to 4,100 members of the Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association, but power was restored to the last 450 customers — whose homes were dark Christmas morning — by 3 p.m. Thursday, said Kurt Brautigam, spokesman for the power association.

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