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At Least 23 Killed in Delta Tornadoes

By Kate Royals and Debbie Skipper

Mississippi Today

Courtesy of msema.org

Tornadoes ripping through Mississippi Friday night left at least 23 dead, four missing, dozens injured and a trail of destruction throughout the Delta and into the east central regions.

In a Twitter post, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency confirmed the casualty count but said the number could go higher. It said search and rescue teams were on the ground.

The National Weather Service reported a 70-mph tornado swept through the towns of Rolling Fork and Silver City in Sharkey County before heading on a path to Alabama, hitting the towns of Amory and Winona.

Sharkey Issaquena Community Hospital in Rolling Fork lost power and was transferring its patients, including those in its nursing home, to other hospitals, according to MEMA.

“My city – my city is gone,” Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker told CNN Saturday morning. “But we are resilient and we are going to come back strong.”

Sharkey Issaquena Community Hospital CEO Jerry Keever was at the nursing home when reached by Mississippi Today. He described it as like “being in the middle of a war zone.”

He confirmed the hospital is closed, and there is a temporary hospital set up at the armory.

Baptist Memorial Hospital in Yazoo City, about 40 miles away from Rolling Fork, received more than 20 patients injured in the tornadoes as of Saturday morning.

“Almost all patients were treated at the hospital. Any that the hospital couldn’t treat were transferred,” said Kim Alexander, a spokesperson for Baptist. ” … Across the board, team members came in to do whatever was needed. There was a great response from ambulance crews as well.”

Tornado expert Walker Ashley described the tornado as a supercell that brews the deadliest tornados and most damaging hail in the U.S., according to The Associated Press. A nighttime one like this one is “the worst kind,” said Ashley, a meteorology professor at the University of Northern Illinois.

“You mix a particularly socioeconomically vulnerable landscape with a fast-moving, long-track nocturnal tornado, and disaster will happen,” Ashley said in an email to the AP.

Cornell Knight told AP that he, his wife and 3-year-old daughter were visiting a relative in Rolling Fork when the tornado struck. They took shelter in the hallway. The tornado struck another relative’s home across a cornfield, trapping several people inside.

This story will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.


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Adam Brown
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