Early Sunday morning, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Mississippi, making federal money available in the counties of Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe, and Sharkey, which were struck the worst by the fatal tornado that raced through the Mississippi Delta on Friday night.
CBS News reports that during the enormous storm’s hour-long journey, at least 26 people died in Mississippi and Alabama. There were dozens more hurt. On Sunday, after hundreds of people were forced from their homes, search and recovery personnel continued the arduous task of excavating through the debris of destroyed houses, businesses, and government buildings.
On Sunday, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited Mississippi to survey the damage.
“In disasters like this, there are no strangers: everyone comes together, everyone is a neighbor, everyone is family,” Mayorkas said Sunday.
“They cannot do it alone, and the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA will be here as long as it takes. The entire federal family is here to support these communities.”
Criswell said at a news conference, “FEMA is here. We remain committed to the people of Mississippi,”
“We will be here for you now, we will be with you next week, we will be here long after these cameras are gone to make sure we are assisting you with all your recovery needs,” Criswell added.
John Boyle, the current FEMA Coordination Officer, is in charge of directing the agency’s relief efforts. The White House issued a statement saying that federal cash could now be used for recovery activities such as short-term housing, home repairs, loans for uninsured property damages, and other programs for individuals and businesses.
Blocks were leveled, buildings were destroyed, a church steeple was torn off, and a municipal water tower was knocked over by the twister. The National Weather Service issued a severe weather watch for eastern Louisiana, south-central Mississippi, and south-central Alabama on Sunday, despite the fact that recovery efforts had just begun.
This watch included the possibility of high winds, huge hail, and even tornadoes. The National Weather Service office in Jackson, Mississippi, tweeted late on Saturday that preliminary data indicated the tornado was an EF-4.
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The agency reports that the maximum sustained wind speeds in an EF-4 tornado range from 166 to 200 miles per hour (265 to 320 kilometers per hour). Warnings were sent by the Jackson office that they were still gathering data on the tornado.
Thirteen people were killed, buildings were reduced to rubble, automobiles were flipped on their sides, and the town’s water tower was knocked over when a tornado ripped through the 2,000-person town of Rolling Fork.
Damage from other possible twisters in the Deep South was being repaired. According to a tweet from the sheriff’s office in Morgan County, Alabama, a guy was recently killed there.
At his regular Sunday lunchtime benediction overlooking St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, Pope Francis prayed specifically for those “struck by a devastating tornado” in Mississippi.
President Biden Sunday issued an emergency declaration for Mississippi, making federal funding available to Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe and Sharkey counties, the areas hardest hit Friday night by a deadly tornado that ripped through the Mississippi Delta. https://t.co/M3PsACtjb4
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) March 26, 2023
Rodney Porter, who lives 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Rolling Fork, remarked, “How anybody survived is unknown by me,” As the storm hit on Friday night, he headed straight there to lend a hand. As Porter arrived, he reported smelling natural gas and hearing cries for rescue coming from the darkness.
“Houses are gone, houses stacked on top of houses with vehicles on top of that,” he said.
Pastor Greg Procter was combing through the ruins of his Chapel of the Cross on a Sunday instead of leading worship. The bell tower was destroyed and the roof of the chapel was blown off by the cyclone.
A new stained glass window dedicated to a church member with many years of service was one of the few artifacts to make it out of the building unharmed. From neighboring Belozi, Annette Body traveled to the devastated community of Silver City to assess the devastation.
She called herself “fortunate” because her own home was spared although many of her friends and acquaintances lost everything in the fire. She looked around at the destroyed neighborhood and added,“Cried last night, cried this morning,” “They said you need to take cover, but it happened so fast that a lot of people didn’t even get a chance to take cover.”
March 26: There is an Enhance risk (level 3 of 5) of severe thunderstorms today across parts of LA/MS/AL. Several rounds of storms are expected. Very large hail (some greater than 2 inches), a few tornadoes (1 or 2 possibly strong/EF-2+) & damaging gusts are possible. pic.twitter.com/6O4hn66sSf
— NWS Storm Prediction Center (@NWSSPC) March 26, 2023
Several storm survivors strolled around bewildered and in shock on Saturday as they scoured the area with chainsaws, cutting through dense piles of debris and downed trees. Old oak trees had their roots ripped out from under the power cables as they were stuck there.
Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi declared a state of emergency after surveying the destruction of a region dotted with vast cotton, corn, and soybean fields and catfish farming ponds. He also pledged to assist in the reconstruction effort.
He had a conversation with Vice President Biden, who had earlier called the state’s congressional representatives. In Mississippi, over a half dozen emergency shelters have opened to house people who have been uprooted.
Meteorologist Lance Perrilloux from the National Weather Service’s Jackson, Mississippi, officials stated that preliminary statistics based on estimations from storm reports and radar data indicated the tornado was on the ground for more than an hour and traveled at least 170 miles (274 kilometers).
He explained the extended travel time away by saying, “That’s rare — very, very rare,” citing broad atmospheric instability as the cause.
According to Perrilloux, a preliminary investigation has revealed that the tornado made its first destructive course to the southwest of Rolling Fork, then continued northeast through Midnight and Silver City, and finally northeast toward Tchula, Black Hawk, and Winona.
According to severe storms forecaster Brian Squitieri of the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, it appears that the same supercell that spawned the deadly twister also spawned tornadoes that caused damage in northwest and north-central Alabama.
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