More storms feared after Mississippi tornado
More severe weather could be on its way to the US state of Mississippi following the tornadoes which killed 26 people, the governor has warned.
Governor Tate Reeves stated that there were still significant risks in some parts of the state.
Many people were forced to flee their homes by the tornadoes that struck Mississippi and Alabama on Friday night.
One of the most severely affected towns claimed that he lost many friends during the disaster.
Friday’s tornado was the deadliest in the state of Mississippi in more than a decade. At least 25 people have died in the state, with one person confirmed dead in neighboring Alabama.
Trees have been uprooted, trucks have overturned into houses and power lines have been brought down by the tornado – classified as “violent” and given the second-highest rating possible.
Saturday was a chaotic day for survivors. They could be seen dazed and stunned walking around the streets. Sunday was a bustle of activity.
Some volunteers, including some from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee, helped with the cleanup operation.
President Joe Biden declared a state emergency and mobilized federal resources to assist in the rescue efforts in the hardest-hit towns.
The devastation is so great, it must be difficult to know where to begin. Crews are working to remove broken trees that are pinning down power lines, with thousands of people losing power during Friday’s storm.
Stations have been set up outside some of the few buildings still partially standing where people can collect water and sandwiches.
But while local communities are grappling with the response, there are warnings of further severe storms to come.
Speaking at a news conference convened in the western town of Rolling Fork, Governor Reeves said: “What we’ve seen, much like the storm that occurred Friday night, is in the 24-36 hours that are leading up to this afternoon, it appears that the risks seem to be getting worse and worse, not better.
“And when you stand here and see this, what feels like a beautiful weather day in Mississippi, please be aware and please know: if you are south of I-55 in Mississippi today there are significant risks. We are prepared.”
The governor said it had been “heartbreaking” to see the loss and devastation caused by the twister, but said he was “damn proud to be a Mississippian” after seeing how locals had responded.
“Because Mississippians have done what Mississippians do,” he said. “In times of tragedy, in times of crisis, they stand up and they show up, and they’re here to help themselves, help their neighbors.”
In the town of Rolling Fork, the extent of the devastation is still difficult to comprehend.
As you approach the town from the south, you can clearly see the tornado’s path. A straight line of trees has been stripped of their branches and uprooted, while others to either side are untouched.
Debris is strewn across the acres of farmland that surround the town, where parts of buildings and vehicles were deposited.
Mayor Eldridge Walker, also speaking at Sunday’s news conference, said the town would come back “bigger and better than ever before” to rounds of applause from those who gathered.
“I’m not only just the mayor of this community, but I’ve lost personal friends,” he said.
“I’m also the local funeral director – now I’m having to meet those who have lost loved ones and help them make it through.”
US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has pledged to help the people of Mississippi, “not just today but for the long haul”.
“It is inspiring to see the people of Mississippi come together… and the people of this country come together to assist those in dire need,” he said.