One service. Three caskets. Three preachers. Three burials.

"And three awesome women ... Godly women," said Angie Clark, whose mother and two aunts were laid to rest Saturday. They were victims of last Wednesday afternoon's horrific tornado in northwest Kemper County that was so strong it sucked asphalt out of area roads.

"I know a lot of people lost loved ones, a lot of people lost everything they own," Clark said. "The only peace I can get is knowing my mother is in heaven, my aunts are in heaven. I know they're not hurting. And I just have to have faith enough to believe they didn't suffer too much when it happened."

The bodies of 85-year-old Johnnie Green, Clark's mother, and Green's sisters-in-law - 78-year-old Maxine McDonald and 76-year-old Florrie Green - were found in a pine thicket about 300 yards from McDonald's mobile home.

Johnnie Green, who lived across a gravel road in a brick house, had driven over to warn them a tornado was approaching.

"We're thinking my mama went over to get them and take them back over to her house," says Clark, 43, a resident of the Winston County community of Nanih Waiya. "I guess they never had time to make it. She died like she lived - always trying to help someone."

In a week when Mississippi saw 35 people die in a relentless series of tornadoes, this area near the Kemper and Neshoba County line, along and near Highway 21, surrendered its share.

On the Kemper/Neshoba County line, Alvin and Dorothy Taylor's five-bedroom, 90-foot mobile home was destroyed and deposited in a pasture more than 200 yards away. All of their five grandchildren, whom they have adopted, were at school when the storm struck around 2:30 p.m.

"I had eaten and laid down to take a nap," said Alvin Taylor, 74. "All of a sudden I heard my wife screaming 'Alvin! It's a tornado!'"

"I was on the phone," Dorothy Taylor recalled, "and the lights flickered twice. So I hung up, walked to the door and that tornado was staring me in the face. Strange thing is, it was clear. No breeze. No sound. No nothing. Just that big black cloud and a funnel to go with it. When I yelled for Alvin, he jumped up and we took off in our van."

They returned minutes later to find only their front steps and one of the rails remaining. But the Taylors were anything but somber Saturday.

"Material things come and go," Dorothy Taylor says. "That's all they are - stuff. God has given us another day of grace and mercy. He didn't take my husband or our grandchildren. That's all that matters. We're blessed. It was just another way of God revealing himself to us and letting us know that He is in control and not us."

As two of her grandsons sifted through the rubble, looking for shoes and clothes, Dorothy Taylor said God revealed something to her about two months ago: "I got this feeling that we should increase our insurance coverage. I have no idea why that thought crossed my mind. But I suddenly wanted it where in case something happened, it would pay us the full replacement value of our property. Our premium only went up about $15, but just think what that?s saved us."

Less than a half-mile away, on the Kemper side of the county line, Greg Cheatham was clearing debris from the parking lot of Cheatham's Mini-Mart, which he and his wife, Vicki, have operated for 35 years.

Eleven people, including four employees, took shelter in a back bathroom when the tornado struck. They escaped without injury.

"We were all in there piled on top of one another, and I could see the roof going up and down," said employee Pam Goodin. "It seemed like it lasted forever, but it was probably two, maybe three minutes."

The store was open Saturday, but the coolers weren't working and a tarp served as the end wall farthest from the cash register. Customers streamed in, not so much to buy something but to offer hugs and condolences.

One exception.

"I'm gonna get me a beer," a man told Cheatham and headed for the cooler.

"It's hot. You don't want that," Cheatham said.

The man shrugged. "I'm gonna buy it anyway just because it's you."

"I've asked some customers what they are going to do about buying beer now - there aren't many places around here to get it - and they said they guess they'd start drinking tea, instead," laughed cashier Jason Copeland, 19.

It has been a tough month for Cheatham. His father, former East Mississippi Community College president Clois Cheatham, died March 25.

Cheatham said the insurance company has indicated the 3,000 square-foot building will be considered a total loss. "I guess we'll knock it down and build it back," he said. "We'll probably be closed at least three months - and that's if everything goes right."

A few miles to the northeast, in the Noxubee County community of Butler, Danny Ray Coleman recalled watching his big-rig mechanic shop disintegrate Wednesday, two days following his 52nd birthday. He had owned Coleman Diesel & Auto for 16 years.

"I was out in the yard when it came over," Coleman said. "It ripped the shop right off the ground and took it away. It was gone in two seconds. I was looking at it face to face. I'd never seen a tornado, but the bottom of this one must have been 200 yards wide and it had a huge funnel at the top."

His home, about 50 yards away, suffered some damage but not enough to drive out him or his wife, Janie.

Coleman plans to reopen "but I know I didn't have enough insurance to cover everything."

Wednesday's deadly tornado - one of three in the county that day - was the second time in a two-week span Kemper County had been hit.

"I think people will be talking about the events of this month for many, many years to come," said Kemper County Sheriff James Moore. "And even though people are trying their best to help one another, the recovery is going to be slow. This thing left a mark that won't go away for a long time."