On Friday night, severe storms and at least one tornado hit the Southeast, shredding off roofs, demolishing houses, and leaving millions without electricity. At least 26 people were killed, and dozens more were injured due to the devastating tornado and severe thunderstorms.
On Sunday, severe storms affected over 20 million people throughout the southern United States and the Midwest.
In Mississippi, where a tornado was proven to have touched down, the damage was the worst and the death toll the greatest. FEMA arrived on the scene to help with recovery work, and state authorities are responsible for finding victims. More than 32,000 homes and businesses in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee were still without electricity as of Saturday afternoon, and thousands more had had service interruptions that had yet to be repaired.
The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for parts of eastern Louisiana, south-central Mississippi, and south-central Alabama, indicating a moderate chance of severe weather. Cities in Mississippi (Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Meridian) and Alabama (Montgomery and Prattville) are included in this alert.
According to the Storm Prediction Center, “big hail to very large hail should be the predominant hazard with any supercells.” Tornadoes and damaging winds are also a distinct possibility.
Twenty-five deaths have been confirmed in Mississippi. Officials in Alabama say a man rescued by emergency crews eventually died from his injuries.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said rescue efforts were being conducted in Sharkey and Humphreys counties. The agency issued tornado warnings for several counties throughout the state.
Last night, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves tweeted that Delta region residents need your prayers and God’s protection. He also said that search and rescue activities had begun, and additional ambulances and emergency resources had been sent to help the victims.
On Saturday, Vice President Joseph Biden expressed his sympathies to the families of those who died in the storms.
Shocking moments have been captured all around Mississippi. We still don’t know the entire extent of the destruction, but we do know that many of our fellow Americans have lost homes, businesses, and loved ones, Biden added.
He said, “We will do everything in our power to help people who have been affected by these terrible storms, as well as the first responders and emergency workers who are trying to help their fellow Americans. We want to stay for as long as is necessary. We’ll collaborate to get you the help you need to feel better.”
The strong storms prompted Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves to declare an emergency in the impacted counties.
On Saturday, Reeves and the state’s congressional delegation officially requested emergency federal support for the areas severely impacted by the tornadoes.
When Hyde-Smith returned to Washington, she promised to “get what we need.” She mentioned that Deanne Criswell, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had been in touch and planned to visit Mississippi on Sunday.
According to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas and Mississippi’s congressional delegation, including Hyde-Smith, they will visit the parts of Mississippi affected by the storms alongside FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.
During her visit to the affected area, the senator spoke to a woman who had lost her mother and father-in-law in the storm. The couple was found under a tractor-trailer, as per Hyde-Smith’s account.
Zachary Hill, a storm chaser, arrived in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, on Friday night, just two minutes before the tornado struck, and he did not hear any tornado sirens. He and his team had anticipated the storm would move northeast and pass just north of the town, but that was not the case. Hill described it as the most harrowing encounter he had ever had with a powerful tornado. The aftermath of the storm, he said, was like something out of an apocalypse.
Following severe weather damage, an emergency boil water notice has been issued for Amory, Mississippi. A curfew will be in effect from 8 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET) on Saturday until further notice. The police department has urged citizens to stay off the streets unless they are first responders. Amory is situated in northeast Mississippi and is approximately 25 miles away from Tupelo. Meanwhile, survey teams from the National Weather Service are assessing the damage in four Mississippi counties on Saturday.