A tornado swept through a small rural town in the Mississippi Delta on Friday, leaving a trail of destruction in one of the poorest regions of the United States. The tornado brought down trees, collapsed roofs, and knocked over power lines and poles, leaving much of the town in ruins. At least 25 people were killed in Mississippi, and one man died in Alabama.
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Mississippi early on Sunday, ordering federal aid to supplement recovery efforts. Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was scheduled to visit the area to assess the damage. However, the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center warned that severe thunderstorms were expected to hit the central Gulf states on Sunday, which could lead to more tornadoes.
Governor Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency and pledged to help rebuild the region, which is home to cotton, corn, and soybean fields, as well as catfish farming ponds. More than half a dozen shelters were opened in the state to house those who were displaced.
Early data suggested that the tornado received a preliminary EF-4 rating, with top wind gusts of between 166 mph and 200 mph. The tornado was on the ground for more than an hour, traversing at least 170 miles, according to Lance Perrilloux, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s office in Jackson. He described the tornado’s path as rare and attributed it to widespread atmospheric instability.
The damage caused by the tornado was extensive and devastating, according to Meg Cooper, a coordinator with the Lower Delta Partnership, a nonprofit cultural programming and business group in the region. She added that the damage to cultural monuments, including a site marking the birthplace of Mississippi Delta blues musician Muddy Waters, was not yet clear.
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