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Mississippi Emergency Management reports at least 23 people have died from Friday's tornado that ripped through the state.
MEMA reports dozens are injured and at least four are missing from the storm that left widespread devastation in the communities of Rolling Fork, Silver City and Amory.
"Unfortunately, these numbers are expected to change," MEMA said in a statement.
The initial tornado touched down for at least 80 miles. The storm system remained dangerous on a path of about 200 miles, from Delta communities like Rolling Fork across Mississippi and over to those across the state line, near Hamilton, Alabama.
Scenes from the Mississippi storms:Tornadoes rip through Mississippi and Alamaba overnight; 23 reported dead
Thousands remain without power, with the highest percentages in Sharkey, Mongomery, Humphreys and Carroll counties.
"It's total devastation"
Victoria Garland of Onward, along with her husband, Thomas, was in Rolling Fork until the early hours this morning doing what she could do to help. Although it was dark, what she could see painted a grim picture.
"It's really bad in town," Garland said. "It's total devastation.
"A lot we could see was gone. The skyline you grew up with your whole life is gone. The businesses we rely on are gone. We're definitely in shock."
Garland said numerous businesses were destroyed in Rolling Fork including an animal shelter where she said something just shy of a miracle happened.
"The animal shelter was hit, but three dogs survived," she said. "I don't know how. To find a live dog was unbelievable. It's just unreal."
According to city officials, there are 18 confirmed casualties in Rolling Fork alone, with an unconfirmed number of people missing.
Fire and rescue crews from across the state have come to the area to provide assistance, including from the Jackson metro area.
The National Guard Armory in Rolling Fork will be opening to assist in sheltering operations, according to MEMA. A FEMA Team is also "en route" to the state. Humphreys County is opening its multipurpose building as a shelter, and the American Red Cross will set up a shelter at the Greenville Multipurpose Center. The Red Cross is also providing food to those in need, including one thousand meals for breakfast, one thousand meals for lunch and one thousand meals for dinner.
Early media reports Friday night indicated that the Sharkey-Issaquena Community Hospital had been impacted by the storm. The extent of that damage is unknown, but no casualties from the hospital have been reported as of 10:20 a.m. Saturday. According to MEMA, patients from the hospital were transferred to other hospitals and nursing facilities in the area.
University of Mississippi Medical Center has also sent pediatric transport to Yazoo City to assist with three pediatric injuries, according to MEMA. Covington County EMS sent ambulances to Rolling Fork on Saturday, and Pafford Ambulance Service is providing a mobile hospital and support staff at the National Guard Armory in Rolling Fork.
Debris Spreads Far
While the Mississippi Department of Transportation continues to report significant amounts of debris blocking roads, it seems some debris traveled over 100 miles inside of the storm.
Mississippi musician Andrew Bryant posted a photo on Twitter of a check from the Rolling Fork Rotary Club that he said landed in his aunt's yard in Big Creek, MS, over a hundred miles away.
My cousin found this in her yard in Big Creek, MS. 133 miles from Rolling Fork pic.twitter.com/mDe0SvYyVF
— Andrew Bryant (@MagnoliaState) March 25, 2023
State of Emergency
Gov. Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency Saturday morning in response to the devastation, shortly after announcing that he was on his way to Sharkey County.
"I'm devastated by the destruction and loss of life that these storms have caused," Reeves said in a statement. "The state of Mississippi will continue doing everything we can to marshal every resource available to support our fellow Mississippians who are in need. The state will be there to help them rebuild. We're not going anywhere and we're in it for the long haul. Please join me in praying for the family and friends of those who lost loved ones in this trying time."
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell said she had spoken with Reeves.
I just spoke to @tatereeves about the devastating tornadoes in Mississippi and how @FEMA can help the communities impacted. Our thoughts are with the people of Mississippi who are dealing with this terrible trauma.
— Deanne Criswell (@FEMA_Deanne) March 25, 2023
Also Saturday morning, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who represents much of the affected area in Congress, said he would push for a federal declaration.
"After touring Rolling Fork and Silver City last night, I will be supporting a federal disaster declaration for all communities impacted. I witnessed firsthand the heroic efforts of our first responders," Thompson said via Twitter.
Jackson St. Patrick's Day parade goes on
While the aftermath of Friday's devastating tornado gripped much of the state, Jackson's annual Hal's St. Paddy's Day Parade went on as usual downtown.
Thousands of revelers hit the streets downtown, dressed in green, while the cleanup and rescue efforts began in Amory and Rolling Fork and elsewhere.
Gov. Reeves thankful for federal help
Reeves, who earlier declared a state of emergency, acknowledged the need and help of the federal government in a Tweet Saturday afternoon.
""I just spoke with President Biden about the deadly tornados we faced overnight. He assured us FEMA would be there to support our response. The flood of support from governors, businesses, charities, and federal admin has been tremendous—matches the community here on the ground."
This is a developing story. Check back with the Clarion Ledger for updates.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Mississippi tornado live updates Rolling Fork: At least 23 dead in MS