Tornado Devastated Rolling Fork, Mississippi: Latest Updates
The tornadoes left a trail of destruction across rural Mississippi Friday night, killing at least 23 people, leveling buildings and plunging thousands of homes into darkness.
At least 23 people were killed, dozens injured and four missing following a wave of tornadoes, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency confirmed Saturday morning. Search and rescue efforts continued well into the morning as crews started damage assessment Saturday, the agency said. The death toll could continue to climb, the agency said.
According to AccuWeather, most of the worst impacts came from a storm that carved a devastating northeastward path through Mississippi and Alabama. The rural towns of Silver City and Rolling Fork, about 60 miles northeast of Jackson, Mississippi, suffered the brunt of the damage from a tornado that was moving at 50 mph when it hit the area just after 20 hours Friday.
The tornado then continued to roll northeast at 70 mph toward Alabama and through small towns like Winona and Amory.
“Homes (have been) completely demolished, businesses demolished…most of the city is unrecognizable right now,” Baeley Williams, one of the first responders at Rolling Fork, told AccuWeather.
Tornado reports in Mississippi, Alabama
There were at least two dozen tornado reports on Friday across Mississippi and Alabama, including in Mississippi’s Rolling Fork, Silver City and Winona, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.
In Morgan County, Alabama, first responders are going door to door checking on residents. Crews rescued a man who was stuck in the mud when a trailer was overturned and six people were trapped in a house, according to the county sheriff’s office.
Severe thunderstorms are expected to continue Sunday with heavy hail, damaging gusts and more tornadoes from far eastern Texas and central Louisiana to south and central Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, according to the National Weather Service.
Witnesses describe devastation in Mississippi town Rolling Fork
Onward’s Victoria Garland was in Rolling Fork with her husband early Saturday trying to help residents struggling with the damage. She called it “utter devastation”.
“A lot of things that we could see were gone,” she said. “The skyline you’ve grown up with all your life is gone. The businesses we rely on are gone. We’re definitely in shock.”
Garland said a Rolling Fork animal shelter was destroyed, but three dogs miraculously survived.
“I don’t know how,” she said. “Finding a live dog was amazing. It’s just unreal.”
Eldridge Walker, Mayor of Rolling Fork told WLBT-TV that he was unable to get out of his damaged home shortly after the tornado because the power lines were down. He told CNN his town had been largely wiped out.
“My town is gone,” he said. “But we are resilient and we will come back strong.”
As of Saturday morning, more than 15,500 homes were without power in Mississippi, along with 20,400 in Alabama and 53,700 in Tennessee, according to poweroutage.us.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said in a Twitter post on Friday evening that search and rescue efforts were continuing and authorities were dispatching more ambulances and other emergency resources to the area.
“The loss will be felt in these towns forever,” he said. “Please pray for God’s hand to be with everyone who has lost family and friends.”
The National Weather Service has warned of ‘potentially deadly’ storms
On Friday night, the National Weather Service warned that tornadoes would cause a “life-threatening situation.” When the storm hit, the agency issued an alert to the area, saying “To protect your life, COVER YOURSELF NOW!”
“Flying debris can be deadly to those caught without shelter,” the weather service said. “Mobile homes will be destroyed. Extensive damage to homes, businesses and vehicles is likely and complete destruction is possible.”
More than half a dozen shelters were opened across the state by emergency officials ahead of the tornadoes.
Night tornadoes are deadly
Nighttime tornadoes are twice as likely to be deadly as daytime tornadoes, scientists report. A 2008 study published by Professors Walker Ashley and Andrew Krmenec of Northern Illinois University found that nighttime tornadoes accounted for only 27% of all tornadoes from 1950 to 2005, but were responsible for 39% of all tornado deaths. .
In fact, one in 32 nighttime tornadoes results in a death, compared to one in 64 during the day.
Some reasons for this are obvious, according to Weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman.
Unless you’re lit by at least fairly frequent lightning, you might not see a tornado at night, Erdman said. “One of the challenges facing the meteorological and social science communities is getting the public to take shelter immediately, without first ‘confirming the threat’ of a tornado by looking ahead. outside and wasting precious seconds to get to safety.”
He added that most people are home and sleeping at night and may not be aware of an approaching tornado threat: If you can’t see a tornado coming, it’s more likely to happen. kills you, and even more so if you’ve ever gone to bed.
— Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Contribute: The Associated Press