Mississippi, Alabama Tornado Kills 24, Injures Dozens, Destroys Rural Towns in its Path
24 people have died and dozens have been injured after a tornado swept through Mississippi and into Alabama Friday evening. Mississippi’s Silver City and Rolling Fork saw widespread destruction after the tornado moved through the towns at 70 miles per hour late Friday evening before reaching the Alabama towns of Winona and Armory hours later.
President Biden said Saturday afternoon he has been in touch with Mississippi state officials since the disaster. “We will be there as long as it takes,” Biden said, according to the New York Times. “We will work together to deliver the support you need to recover.”
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) issued a state of emergency Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the initial destruction. As a result, all state agencies now have a directive to “discharge emergency responsibilities,” according to Reeves’ declaration. Meanwhile, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) tweeted Saturday morning that he will be supporting a federal disaster declaration in order to secure further aid for affected residents.
The National Weather Service said they are deploying crews to northeast Mississippi for a “complex survey” of tornado damage, the Times reports.
Rolling Fork’s mayor Eldridge Walker told CNN Saturday morning that the town had been obliterated.
“My city is gone. But we are resilient and we are going to come back strong,” Walker said.
State officials have also confirmed four individuals are still missing. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency tweeted Saturday morning at that the number of reported deaths and injuries are likely to change in coming hours.
Authorities in Morgan County, AL, said a man who was partially stuck in mud when a trailer overturned did not survive his injuries.
Beyond those directly impacted by the disaster, roughly 100,000 are without power across Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, The New York Times reported.
One local WAPT reporter’s video of the devastation showed overturned cars and trees and homes reduced to piles of rubble. On Seventh Street, a semi-trailer truck smashed into one home, killing two people. “Words can’t express what I’m feeling. I’m just broken,” said one man at the scene who broke down as he said he lost both his parents, Lonnie and Melissa Pierce. “I just wish I had spent a little more time with them … I still got to tell my son that they’re gone.”
“I was told that they passed away in each other’s arms,” he said through tears.
Video shows severe wreckage in Rolling Fork, including many destroyed structures and vehicles in the wake of the tornado.