Mississippi tornadoes leave at least 23 dead
At least 23 people were killed and four people are missing following multiple tornadoes that struck Mississippi late Friday night.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said in a tweet that it could confirm the 23 deaths, four missing individuals and dozens of injuries. The agency said numerous state and local search and rescue teams are continuing to work to find people Saturday morning.
It tweeted shortly after that the numbers are “unfortunately” likely to rise.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said a tornado struck about 60 miles northeast of Jackson. It moved through rural towns like Rolling Fork and Silver City at 70 miles per hour and traveled northeast toward Alabama.
The NWS said in an alert as the storm was arriving in the state that residents should “TAKE COVER NOW” to protect their lives. It said mobile homes would be destroyed, flying debris could be deadly to those not taking shelter, “considerable” damage to homes, businesses and vehicles was likely and “complete destruction” was possible.
Gov. Tate Reeves (R) tweeted on Friday that the state activated medical support to increase the number of ambulances and emergency support for the affected areas. He said on Saturday that he was traveling to Sharkey County to be with the people who were first hit and called on people to pray for others.
“The loss will be felt in these towns forever,” Reeves said.
The damage to Rolling Fork was severe enough that it caused some storm chasers to plead for help from search and rescue teams and others to take injured people to the hospital.
“My city is gone,” Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker told CNN. “But we are resilient, and we are going to come back strong.”
Video of the damage from the tornadoes showed houses reduced to piles of rubble, cars flipped over and trees without their branches.
Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, tweeted that she spoke with Reeves on Saturday about how the agency can help those impacted.
The Vicksburg News reported that the Sharkey County Sheriff’s Office has some units that have been unaccounted for.
Tens of thousands of people are without power as of Saturday morning in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee as a result of the storms, according to the power-outage tracker website, poweroutage.us.
The Mississippi emergency management agency said private citizens should not go out to help on their own, and the agency will match unaffiliated individuals with affiliated groups “when the time is right.” It said water and other resources could be donated to the Rolling Fork Civic Center.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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