Yazoo City is a city in Yazoo County, Mississippi. It was named after the Yazoo River, which, in turn was named by the French explorer Robert La Salle in 1682 as "Rivière des Yazous" in reference to the Yazoo tribe living near the river's mouth. It is the county seat of Yazoo County and the principal city of the Yazoo City Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the larger Jackson–Yazoo City Combined Statistical Area. According to the 2010 census, the population was 11,403.
The community now known as Yazoo City was founded in 1824 with the name Hannan's Bluff. It was later renamed Manchester, then changed to Yazoo City in 1841. Yazoo City became the county seat in 1849.
A yellow fever epidemic struck Yazoo City in 1853. During the American Civil War, a makeshift shipyard was established on the Yazoo River at Yazoo City after the Confederate loss of New Orleans. The shipyard was destroyed by Union forces in 1863, but the Confederates soon recovered Yazoo City. Union forces returned the following year and this time burned down almost the entire town.
Yazoo City was rebuilt, but yellow fever struck and took more victims in 1878. In 1904 a fire destroyed much of central Yazoo City. According to a local legend, the fire was caused by a witch avenging her death. In reality, a boy playing with matches accidentally set a house ablaze. The fire quickly spread and three-fourths of the town was destroyed, including most of the homes. It was stopped by a canal, which saved the new courthouse (built in 1872 to replace the one burned by the Yankees) and ten antebellum homes nearby. The town took almost two years to recover.
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 did much damage to the entire Delta, but Yazoo City was restored and is now protected by an effective flood prevention system.
April 24, 2010 tornado
A strong tornado, rated EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale and with a path width of 1.75 miles, hit Yazoo County on April 24, 2010. Four people were killed in the Yazoo City area, and a number were seriously injured; four of the victims were airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in the capital city of Jackson, 40 miles away. The Governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, toured the area in a National Guard helicopter and held a news conference on the disaster at 3:30 PM US Central Time. The tornado and the aftermath were shown in an episode of the Discovery Channel series Storm Chasers, and there are several videos on YouTube, which show considerable detail and descriptions.
November 29, 2010 tornado
At approximately 8:05 pm local time (Central), Yazoo City was struck by two tornadoes: first, an EF-2 tornado three miles southwest of town, then a second EF-2 within the city limits, causing significant damage to several downtown buildings.