Biden lists names of 13 killed by tornado in Rolling Fork

Published 5:37 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

President Joe Biden and a delegation comprised of federal and state officials toured Rolling Fork on Friday, one week after an EF-4 tornado nearly leveled the town.

Prior to his departure, Biden gave a public address, during which he offered condolences to families in the town who lost loved ones, listing the names* of the 13 Rolling Fork residents killed by the tornado.

“There’s nothing we can do to heal the hole in your hearts left by the 13 people who passed, many of whom I met their families: Melissa Pierce. Lonnie Pierce. Mary Bush. Deloris Harris​​. David Moore​​. Phyllis Maxey​​. Daryl Purvis​​. Linda Herman. Erica Moore. Brenda Odoms​​. April Johnson. Lavetta Herman. And Wanda Kelly,” the President said.

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During his visit, Biden announced increased aid to the state of Mississippi as its cities recover from the March 24 storm, including 300 FEMA workers on-site in Rolling Fork.

Biden said the people of Rolling Fork will not “be alone” as they continue to rebuild their town.

“Folks, I know there’s a lot of pain and that it’s hard to believe, at a moment like this, this community is going to be rebuilt, and rebuilt and built back better than it was before,” he said. “The resilience of this community has been remarkable. And I just want you to know, as you fight through this, you’re not alone. The American people will be with you. They’ll help you through it, and so will I.”

At two points in his address, Biden referred to Rolling Fork as “Rolling Stone.”

An audience member corrected him after the second error. Biden responded, saying, “I got my mind going here.”

Biden finished his speech by thanking the first responders and volunteers in the town, again stating his administration’s resolve to offer “as much support as is legally possible” for Mississippians impacted by the tornado and encouraging residents to take advantage of assistance programs being offered in the wake of the storm.

*During his address, President Biden mispronounced five victims’ names. The White House offered the correct spellings for these names.