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Assistance coming for residents in four...

Assistance coming for residents in four counties devastated by Friday tornado

By: Sarah Ulmer - March 26, 2023

Rolling Fork, MS - March 26, 2023 (Photo from Governor Tate Reeves Facebook page)

The financial aid was approved by the White House and can be applied for by residents in Carrol, Humphreys, Monroe, and Sharkey counties for personal damage or businesses.

In the aftermath of the devastating tornadoes on Friday, Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency for the counties and cities impacted. Since then, he has also requested an expedited Major Disaster Declaration for Carrol, Humphreys, Monroe and Sharkey counties.

So far, 25 people have been reported dead from the storms.

“The scale of the damage and loss is evident everywhere affected today,” said Governor Reeves. “From homes, to businesses, and even entire communities. Respond, recover, rebuild together. That is the mission.”

Governor Reeves held a press conference with federal officials in Rolling Fork today to provide an update. You can watch it in full here.

A plea for individual and public assistance was approved by the White House over the weekend after the Mississippi Congressional Delegation sent a letter to the President in conjunction with Governor Reeves’ request.

The letter read:

Initial damage reports indicate Mississippi experienced multiple tornadoes across four counties on March 24, 2023.  The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) reported that as of the morning of March 25, 2023, at least 23 Mississippians have lost their lives and dozens more were injured. As Governor Reeves included in his request, the initial damage assessments indicate that hundreds of homes, businesses, and other structures were destroyed or suffered major damage across a broad swath of our state.  There was also significant damage to the power grid in these areas.Currently available resources from state and local governments and volunteer organizations are inadequate to meet the state’s recovery needs.  Significant federal assistance and cooperation are needed for Mississippi to rebuild.

This assistance will be available for residents of all four counties that include grant funding for housing, home repairs, low-cost loans to cover any uninsured property loses and other programs to help residents and businesses begin to recover from the disaster.

“The images from across Mississippi are heartbreaking. While we are still assessing the full extent of the damage, we know that many of our fellow Americans are not only grieving for family and friends, they’ve lost their homes and businesses,” said President Joe Biden. “Today, I reached out to Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, and have spoken to Senator Wicker, Senator Hyde-Smith, and Congressman Bennie Thompson to express my condolences and offer full federal support as communities recover from the effects of this storm. I also spoke to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who has already deployed emergency response personnel and resources to support search-and-rescue teams, assess the damage, and focus our federal support where it is needed most quickly.”

On Sunday, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Administrator Deanne Criswell came to Mississippi and spoke with leaders including Governor Tate Reeves and the Congressional Delegation. FEMA also deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to the area and has allotted commodities and resources, as well as staff to support state-led search and rescue missions, should the state request such assistance. 

Those living in the four counties can register online at or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for anyone who is hearing or speech impaired.

As cleanup begins, Atmos Energy is urging those in the area to stay safe in doing so.

“Atmos Energy has brought in additional personnel to continuously work in storm damaged areas surveying, repairing, and replacing natural gas infrastructure while restoring natural gas service as quickly and safely as possible.  Please observe these safety reminders to keep you, your family, and your neighbors safe,” said Atmos in a press release.

They recommend residents pay particular attention to the smell of gas, being aware of where gas lines are located as they remove trees and pick up debris and to report any outages they encounter.

  • Smell gas? Act fast! –  Anyone who thinks they smell natural gas inside their home or neighborhood should leave the area immediately and from a safe distance call 911 and the Atmos Energy Emergency Hotline at 866.322.8667.  We will promptly send someone to investigate.
  • Debris cleanup – Make sure the area around your natural gas meter is clear of trash or debris, so cleanup crews can easily see and avoid striking any natural gas facilities.
  • Tree removal – Before removing large tree limbs or deep-rooted tree stumps, call 811 to have your underground utility lines located and prevent any damage. 
  • Digging – Natural gas distribution pipelines are mostly underground but can be damaged by uprooted trees and shifted foundations. After the storm, call 811 to have underground utility lines marked.
  • Roof vents and piping – High winds and debris can cause significant roof damage that could bend or pull apart vent caps and pipes. Please contact a licensed plumber or heating contractor to have gas vents and piping inspected and to ensure proper ventilation of natural gas equipment and appliances, which allows combustion gases to escape outside.
  • Outage/Service Interruption – Atmos Energy customers experiencing a natural gas outage or service interruption should contact the company’s customer service number at 888.286.6700. Service will be restored as quickly as possible once the area is deemed safe.
  • Property Demolition – If your property is scheduled to be demolished, please contact Atmos Energy’s customer service number at 888.286.6700 before demolition activities begin to protect your property and to make the area safe.
About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: