Rolling Fork remembers: Community comes together for service one year after deadly storm

Published 7:32 am Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The streets of Rolling Fork are still lined with debris and buildings ripped apart still sit exposed one year after a deadly EF-4 tornado rocked the area killing 21 people and destroying huge swaths of communities along Highway 61.

But Sunday’s one-year anniversary of the devastating storm brought with it light at the end of a long tunnel of recovery, and Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker said his community will emerge stronger than it was before.

“As we honor the memories of our friends and families today, we uplift the families here today with the faith of a brighter day,” Walker said during a special service held Sunday in downtown Rolling Fork. “And brighter days are here. Our communities have seen the depth of despair, yet we are seeing the other side through strength and resilience.”

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Walker said the memory of the storm will always bring with it pain for the survivors, but also carries the hope of stories of survival. Stories, he said, like those of locals who saved lives by sheltering inside businesses like Chuck’s Dairy Bar. Or stories of the many Rolling Fork residents who gave food, time, and other valuable resources to their neighbors in the days and weeks following the storm.

“We have been united in an experience that forever changed us,” he said. “And it is up to us to demand a better Rolling Fork that brings about housing and economic development. To date, FEMA has provided food, shelter and resources totaling over $32 million. The American Red Cross, local and state, have also contributed a presence, providing much-needed resources.”

Walker said the process of recovery is far from over, but added he has complete faith in the spirit of those living in the community he serves.

“As we continue to rebuild, it is up to us to preserve and to endear our great community to others, encouraging families and businesses to experience the place that we call home. The road to recovery has not been easy, but we know that it is vital.”