President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Mississippi, in the aftermath of the deadly tornado that ripped through the Mississippi Delta late Friday, leaving the region — one of the poorest in the country — devastated. At least 25 people were killed in Mississippi, and one man died in Alabama.
Early Sunday, Biden ordered federal aid to supplement recovery efforts, the White House said in a statement. As recovery efforts continued, the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center warned that severe thunderstorms would bring “the possibility of a couple of strong tornadoes” across the central Gulf states on Sunday. As a result, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency tweeted that residents should “have a plan” and “know their safe place.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency and vowed to help rebuild the region, with more than half a dozen shelters opened in the state to house those displaced. According to early data tweeted from National Weather Service office in Jackson, Friday’s tornado received a preliminary EF-4 rating. An EF-4 tornado has top wind gusts between 166 mph and 200 mph, according to the service.
Lance Perrilloux, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s office in Jackson, told the Associated Press that preliminary information based on estimates from storm reports and radar data indicate the tornado was on the ground for more than an hour and traversed at least 170 miles. He added that preliminary findings showed the tornado began its path of destruction just southwest of Rolling Fork before continuing northeast toward the rural communities of Midnight and Silver City, and onward toward Tchula, Black Hawk and Winona.
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