At least 25 people were killed and several were injured after a devastating tornado tore through Mississippi for over an hour on Friday, March 24. The massive storm laid a path of destruction across more than six towns in the state, displacing hundreds of people from their homes and communities.
On Sunday, the National Weather Service said in a preliminary report that the tornado traveled for about 59 miles (95 kilometers) for more than an hour. It was estimated to be three-quarters of a mile wide. According to Brian Squitieri, a storm forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, the supercell storm that produced the tornado also created twisters in northwest and north-central Alabama. A man in Alabama died after his trailer home flipped over multiple times from the high winds.
Rolling Fork, Mississippi, suffered particularly catastrophic damages, as the storm hit so fast that there was almost no time for the sheriff’s department to warn its 2,000 residents to prepare.
“Sharkey County, Mississippi, is one of the poorest counties in the state of Mississippi, but we’re still resilient,” Mayor Eldridge Walker said, speaking on the town’s status. “We’ve got a long way to go, and we certainly thank everybody for their prayers and for anything they will do or can do for this community.”
The twister leveled entire blocks of residential areas, destroyed houses, and brought down a municipal water tower. Search and recovery teams in Rolling Fork and other parts of the Deep South are working to dig through wreckage to locate more missing people and lost valuables.
President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration for Mississippi on Sunday, providing federal funding to the areas that were hit the hardest. These areas include Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe, and Sharkey Counties. According to a statement by the White House, social services like temporary housing, home repairs, and loans to cover uninsured property losses will be in effect for the victims.
At a news conference with local, state, and federal leaders, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said, “Help is on the way.”
Photo courtesy of Will Newton/Getty Images.