At least 25 people were killed in Mississippi, and one in Alabama, after a tornado struck after sunset Friday into a storm system that unleashed tornadoes, torrential rains, gusts of wind and hail as it traveled across the South.
The storm system tore through Mississippi and produced a tornado that touched down and caused catastrophic damage to communities across the state. In Rolling Fork, a rural town about 60 miles northwest of the state capital of Jackson, buildings that once were strewn piles of wreckage. The tornado moved northeast to devastated rural areas.
The National Weather Service confirmed that the hurricane caused damage 60 miles northeast of Jackson, Mississippi. Silver City and Rolling Fork reported devastation as the tornado ripped through the Northeast at 70 mph without weakening, racing toward Alabama through towns including Winona and Amory into the night.
“Every trace of this town is gone,” said Roger Cummings of Silver City, who said his nephew was killed in the storm.
“We lost everything, but we got out alive,” Silver City resident Rayford Thomas told CBS News Saturday.
Thomas has lived in the Old Town subdivision of Silver City for about 30 years. However, on Friday night, he nearly died in his home when a tornado swept through the neighborhood.
“I just rode around trying to get into the tightest corner,” said Thomas when the tornado hit.
Thomas said his next-door neighbor was killed when the tornado blew a mobile home’s frame through its wall.
Ernestine Hill, 73, survived the hurricane, but lost everything else, including her blood pressure medication. Eventually she found some of her medicine in the rubble.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said in a tweet Friday night that search and rescue teams are active and that officials are sending more ambulances and emergency assets to those affected.
“Many in MS Delta need your prayers and God’s protection tonight,” the post said. “Watch the weather reports and be careful all night, Mississippi!”
Officials like Reeves have been calling for help as residents survey damage after the storm, with the governor tweeting Saturday that search and rescue teams are “still active” and the losses “will be felt in these towns forever.”
Reeves issued a Emergency In all counties affected by storms on Saturday afternoon.
President Biden issued a statement on Saturday addressing the devastation.
“Jill and I pray for those who lost loved ones in the devastating hurricanes in Mississippi and for those who lost loved ones,” he said. “The images from across Mississippi are heartbreaking. While we are still assessing the full extent of the damage, we know that many of our fellow Americans are not only grieving family and friends, but the loss of their homes and businesses.”
Biden said he has spoken to Reeves and other Mississippi state lawmakers to provide “full federal support” to affected communities. He also said that FEMA representatives have already been deployed to the area.
“We will do everything we can to help. We will be there for as long as it takes. And we will work together to provide the support you need to recover,” Biden added.
The White House said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorcas and FEMA Administrator Dean Creswell will travel to Mississippi to survey the damage on Sunday.
The city said in a statement that residents of Amory received an emergency boil water warning on Saturday after “the city’s water department suffered a direct hit from the hurricane.”
Meteorologists have been warning of severe weather for days, and even launched a weather balloon on Thursday. The killer cyclones follow the devastating storms that hit the region on Thursday and Friday.
In southern Missouri, a car carrying six teenagers inside was washed away by floodwaters. Two of them have not survived.
At least two tornadoes slammed into North Texas on Friday, with winds of up to 100 mph.
Eric Huntley dug through what was left of his house.
“Soon after I got the alert,” he said of the storm, “I went to look outside and then I heard the moaning.” “I will never forget that sound.”
The storm also knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers across the Midwest and Northeast. In Ohio, more than 359,000 customers were without power as of Saturday night, according to utility trackers. PowerOutage.uswhile more than 130,000 customers were without power in Pennsylvania.
More than 14,000 customers in Mississippi and Alabama were left without power Saturday night.