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Lightning strikes Panola County's E-911 Dispatch Center; 2 injured

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The one place tasked to relay emergency help to those in need was suddenly in the need of assistance themselves after a vicious lightning strike with storms in northern Mississippi on Monday.

The Panolian reported two of three dispatchers on duty at Panola County's E-911 Dispatch Center were injured when a lightning strike to the building went through the phone lines shortly after 5 p.m. Panola County's sheriffs department, jail, airport as well as a nearby residence were all affected by the strike.

“Radios went out. Alarms went off,” said Rebecca Allen, one of the dispatchers in the building in Batesville when it was hit. “My partner over there yelled, ‘It struck me!’ My partner back there said, ‘It came through my phone,’” WREG-TV reported.

Emergency Management Director Daniel Cole said up to $10,000 worth of new software and computers were damaged with the most damage to one of three levels of redundancy to the system installed recently for backup due to a previous lightning strike to the center's tower that sits outside of the building.

The two dispatchers injured were treated and released from Tri-Lakes Medical Center, according to The Panolian.

Emergency calls did not have to be rerouted through City of Batesville 911. Cole said two of three consoles used by dispatchers to direct law enforcement and emergency responders were back up within 30 minutes and the third unit was back up a little while later after a switch was replaced.

The summer months of June, July and August are historically the most dangerous for lightning strikes, accounting for the most deaths, injuries and damages during storms.