Tornado death toll in Mississippi climbs to 25

Published 4:53 pm Saturday, March 25, 2023

The death toll from Friday’s tornado outbreak in Mississippi has increased to 25, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency announced Saturday afternoon.

Fatalities have been reported in Sharkey, Humphreys, Carroll, and Monroe counties after the storms hit the state Friday night. Four people reported missing earlier Saturday have been located.

Earlier Saturday, Sharkey County coroner Angelia Eason said there were 13 people dead in her county, including six in a mobile home park. It was unclear if the two newly reported deaths were in Sharkey County or elsewhere.

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Preliminary estimates by the National Weather Service indicated that the tornado was on the ground for more than an hour and its northwestward track covered nearly 100 miles from Rolling Fork to Winona. Another strong tornado struck northeast Mississippi, near Amory, late Friday night.

Rolling Fork, located in Sharkey County, was hardest hit. The tornado touched down just to the southwest of town at approximately 8 p.m. and rolled across it a few minutes later.

In the aftermath, streets were blocked by large piles of debris. Gas leaks and downed power lines were everywhere. Many front yards had vehicles overturned in them, and others had cars deposited on top of their houses by the high winds.

First responders from all across Mississippi flowed into town by Saturday morning. They worked through the day to not only clear debris, but as search and rescue teams trying to find survivors trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Gov. Tate Reeves visited Rolling Fork on Saturday and issued a State of Emergency in all counties affected by the storms. He also requested an expedited Major Disaster Declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will travel to Mississippi to survey the damage and meet with state and local officials. FEMA deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to the area

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

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office and city of Vicksburg both sent ambulances, deputies and other first responders to immediately assist with recovery efforts in Rolling Fork, while local agencies got started on providing other forms of aid.

The United Way of West Central Mississippi partnered with the Warren County Emergency Management to collect water, supplies and monetary donations. Donations of bottled water will be accepted from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday at the United Way office at 920 South St.

The United Way also set up a monetary fund to aid recovery efforts. To donate, visit the United Way of West Central Mississippi’s website. The UWWCM is asking all donors to “click on ‘add a donation note/comment’ and notate ‘ROLLING FORK’ to ensure that 100 percent of your donation will go directly to those affected by this most recent disaster.”

Donated supplies — such as water, blankets and food — are also being accepted at the John Deere store in Rolling Fork. John Deere is located at 19934 Hwy 61 S. in Rolling Fork. The store phone number is 662-527-2772.