Fox News, by Elizabeth Pritchett, Julia Musto, and Sarah Rumpf: A severe weather outbreak across several southern states Friday evening and Saturday morning produced at least one deadly tornado in Mississippi.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency tweeted Saturday afternoon that there were at least 25 people confirmed dead and dozens more injured after the storm tore across the state Friday evening, damaging buildings and knocking out power for tens of thousands of residents.
“The State of Mississippi is continuing to respond to the devastating deadly tornadoes that swept through the state overnight on March 24, 2023,” the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said in a statement. “At this time, the death toll has risen to 25, and dozens of others are injured.”
Those numbers are expected to rise.
On Saturday, President Biden released a statement sharing his condolences with “those who have lost loved ones” and assuring communities that federal support is on the way.
“Jill and I are praying for those who have lost loved ones in the devastating tornadoes in Mississippi and for those whose loved ones are missing. The images from across Mississippi are heartbreaking.” the president wrote.
“While we are still assessing the full extent of the damage, we know that many of our fellow Americans are not only grieving for family and friends, they’ve lost their homes and businesses.” Biden said.
“Today, I reached out to Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, and have spoken to Senator Wicker, Senator Hyde-Smith, and Congressman Bennie Thompson to express my condolences and offer full federal support as communities recover from the effects of this storm. I also spoke to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who has already deployed emergency response personnel and resources to support search-and-rescue teams, assess the damage and focus our federal support where it is needed most quickly.
“To those impacted by these devastating storms, and to the first responders and emergency personnel working to help their fellow Americans: We will do everything we can to help.” the president promised. “We will be there as long as it takes. We will work together to deliver the support you need to recover.”
“At least twenty-three Mississippians were killed by last night’s violent tornados. We know that many more are injured. Search and rescue teams are still active,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted Saturday. “The loss will be felt in these towns forever. Please pray for God’s hand to be over all who lost family and friends.”
Tate said he spoke with President Biden about the devastation and that the president had assured him the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be there to support the response.
“The flood of support from governors, businesses, charities, and federal admin has been tremendous – matches the community here on the ground,” Tate tweeted.
The governor said that he was en route to Sharkey County to visit those first hit by the devastating tornadoes, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell tweeted that she had spoken with Reeves. A regional FEMA team was on its way to assist the state.
He issued a state of emergency in all counties affected by the severe storms.
The governor said on Twitter Friday night officials were sending more ambulances and emergency assets to those affected.
Authorities looked for a woman who was missing following flash flooding after a small river washed a car off the road.
Amory Mayor Cory Glenn told “Fox & Friends Weekend” early Saturday that everyone there had been accounted for “thus far” but noted the extent of the devastation in his community.
“A devastating storm, but we’re resilient people and we’ll overcome,” he said.
The severe line of storms prompted a tornado emergency to be issued in a few towns, which is the most dire of tornado-related alerts. By definition, it warns that a “large and violent” tornado likely to cause significant widespread damage and numerous fatalities is on the ground.
Many areas across Mississippi experienced widespread damage, including the northeastern town of Amory, which is not too far from the Alabama state line.
Resident Holly Barnes shared a series of photos on Facebook with the caption, “Amory got hit, but we got out. Trying to get home if we still have one.”
First responder agencies in the hardest hit towns posted on social media asking drivers to stay away from the ravaged areas.
Amory’s police and fire departments shared a statement shortly after a tornado passed through:
“Please stay home and do not attempt to drive through Amory. Emergency crews can not do their jobs to help get power back on and assess damage and perform rescue if they cannot access areas. Please be safe and stay in a secure location instead of driving through Amory!”
The first major tornado started in the town of Rolling Fork, FOX Weather reported, and continued 30 miles northeast through Silver City. First responder agencies reported severe damage in both areas. Radar analysis indicated the twister was on the ground for about 80 miles and lifted debris at least 20,000 feet in the air during its destructive path.
Fred Miller, the former mayor of Rolling Fork, told FOX Weather much of the town has been destroyed.
“The west part of Rolling Fork is a residential area, and just a number of houses over there have been completely destroyed,” Miller said. “Highway 61, where most of our businesses are, all of the businesses on 61 have been completely destroyed. People are trapped in a couple of the eateries, and people are trying to get them out now.”
Speaking on Fox News Channel, Mayor Eldridge Walker told Neil Cavuto his community had been “devastated.”
“We’ve lost lives. We have folks who are injured, and I have friends that I’ve lost and families that are displaced,” he explained. “And, right now, we are working real hard to make sure that those families that are displaced and the children — we’re taking care of them and [getting] them what they need at this point.”
Walker said the storm arrived quickly, leaving flat ground where buildings used to stand.
“It was hard to prepare for it. It just happened so fast,” he added.
Speaking later on the show, United Cajun Navy President Todd Terrell said the organization had six dogs assisting with search and rescue efforts.
Brett Adair, FOX Weather’s field meteorologist who was chasing the storm, witnessed the twister enter Silver City.
“We had the drone up in the air and saw this massive tornado coming in, probably 5 or 6 miles away, and then just watched numerous explosions as it came across the highway here in Silver City.”
As of 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, 4,000 customers remained without power across Mississippi, according to PowerOutage.us. The outage tracker also showed over 12,000 without nearby Alabama and over 12,000 in Tennessee.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency tweeted Saturday evening that Mississippi residents should prepare for “severe storms Sunday evening” and “damaging winds.”
As residents prepare for another round of severe storms, the emergency agency warned another wave of tornadoes cannot “be ruled out.”
The agency told residents to plan ahead and to “know your safe place” ahead of the incoming storms.
“While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast.” Great Controversy, 589