He said he got out of his car on U.S. 45 just as the twister was approaching the highway, only to be hit by a strong gust of wind moving into the storm that almost knocked him over.
"I kind of sat there and hoped it would cross right in front of me," Cody said. "It was just a black mass that moved across the road."
Cody said the center of Shuqualak, an eastern Mississippi town of 500 people, was unaffected. But he said a gas station and about 10 or so houses west of the town center were damaged. He said one house was "completely flattened" with debris blown across the road.
Shuqualak resident Kathy Coleman, 57, said she was outside her home, signing for a delivery of her dialysis medication, when the deliveryman hustled her back into the house. They huddled with Coleman's housekeeper in the bathroom when the storm hit.
"All I could hear was trees breaking and falling and glass," Coleman said. "He started praying and I started praying. Thank God he was here."
The T-shaped system first swept across the nation's midsection Wednesday night and pummeled portions of Missouri. An EF-2 tornado, which generally carries winds of 113 mph to 157 mph, appears to have damaged dozens of homes in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood and more than 23,000 homes and businesses lost power, the National Weather Service said Thursday. A utility worker for Ameren Missouri was electrocuted while helping to repair damage, the company said.
In the upper Midwest over the past couple of days, heavy, wet snow, ice and wind have left thousands of homes and businesses without power. In the Nebraska Panhandle, a woman died Tuesday when she tried to trudge through a blinding snowstorm from her disabled car to her house a mile away.
In Michigan's Lower Peninsula, authorities said Thursday that flooding from heavy rain and melting snow sent some rivers over their banks and closed roads.
In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency Thursday after a spring snowstorm heaped more headaches on the southwestern corner of the state, where communities are still struggling to restore power following an ice storm earlier in the week. Officials said it might be early next week before electricity was restored in the southwest.