Wonder Bolden cradles her year-old grand daughter Journey Bolden as she surveys the remains of her mother's tornado demolished mobile home in Rolling Fork, Miss., Saturday, March 25, 2023. Emergency officials in Mississippi say several people have been killed by tornadoes that tore through the state on Friday night, destroying buildings and knocking out power as severe weather produced hail the size of golf balls moved through several southern states. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Prayers are being lifted across the Magnolia State for families and communities after a deadly tornado ravaged Mississippi communities. Relief efforts are underway.
At least one tornado ripped across Mississippi, cutting a 100-mile path of destruction Friday night. The towns of Rolling Fork in Sharkey County and Silver City in Humphreys County were ravaged. Other devastation was reported in Carroll and Monroe Counties, with the City of Amory experiencing extensive damage.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) announced 23 fatalities Saturday morning. By mid-Saturday, the number of fatalities had climbed to 25, with search and rescue efforts continuing. It is the most recorded deaths from tornadic activity in Mississippi since two massive tornadoes claimed 104 lives in 1971.
State of Emergency
Governor Tate Reeves has issued an official State of Emergency following the storms in all counties affected.
“I’m devastated by the destruction and loss of life that these storms have caused,” said Gov. Reeves. “The state of Mississippi will continue doing everything we can to marshal every resource available to support our fellow Mississippians who are in need. The state will be there to help them rebuild. We’re not going anywhere and we’re in it for the long haul. Please join me in praying for the family and friends of those who lost loved ones in this trying time.”
President Joe Biden tweeted his support on Saturday, indicating that he had been in touch with Gov. Reeves, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Congressman Bennie Thompson.
MEMA has put together a website with information for those seeking shelter and for those looking to help storm victims. The Rolling Fork Civic Center is open and accepting donations. Additionally, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety has partnered with MEMA and Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce to accept donations of bottled water, canned goods, and paper products for the victims of the storms. A schedule for dropping off is posted below.
For those who cannot make it the the drop off location, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is collecting funds to aid in relief efforts.
Massive Tornado Generates Devastating Damage
After the storm was spotted Friday night, radar confirmed that debris was being pulled as high as 22,000 feet in the air. The tornado spanned 3/4th of a mile wide. It now has a preliminary rating of EF4, the second strongest category of cyclone, with wind gusts between 166 and 200 mph. Storm chaser video reflects the ferocity of the tornado as it approached Rolling Fork.
Photography and video footage from Rolling Fork Saturday morning revealed the sheer devastation of the storm.
Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann was among the several lawmakers, including Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Senator Briggs Hopson that were present in Rolling Fork Saturday morning.
“The devastation, both in terms of loss of life and damage, is overwhelming here in Rolling Fork. The priority right now is search and rescue in addition to assessment of immediate needs. We are in conversation right now with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, local emergency officials, local government leaders, school district superintendents, and others about how the Legislature may be able to assist with monetary resources in this area and the numerous other impacted areas in our state,” said Hosemann. “Mississippi is a big neighborhood. We will get through this together. We are grateful for all of our first responders and community leaders who will be integral to the process of grieving, cleaning up, and rebuilding in the coming days and weeks.”