By Zachary Stieber
Tornadoes left at least 26 dead in Mississippi, with dozens more injured, officials said on March 25.
In addition to the dead and injured, four people are missing in the state, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, these numbers are expected to change,” the agency said.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said that “at least” 23 Mississippians were killed by the tornadoes.
Tornadoes hit the city of Winona and inflicted damage in Silver City and Rolling Fork, all in central Mississippi, according to the National Weather Service.
“The loss will be felt in these towns forever. Please pray for God’s hand to be over all who lost family and friends,” Reeves said in a statement.
Throughout Saturday morning, people walked around dazed and in shock as they broke through debris and fallen trees with chain saws, searching for survivors. Power lines were pinned under decades-old oaks, their roots torn from the ground.
Wonder Bolden was holding her granddaughter, Journey, while standing outside the remnants of her mother’s now-leveled mobile home in Rolling Fork on Saturday morning.
“There’s nothing left,” the 44-year-old hospice worker said, looking out at the car that had landed on top of a diner that used to be 60 feet away from her driveway. “There’s just the breeze that’s running, going through—just nothing.”
Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker told WJTV that the storms damaged many homes, including his own.
“What we found was devastation all around us,” Walker said. “My city is gone. But we are resilient and we are going to come back strong,” he added to CNN.
Reeves was briefed by emergency officials on Saturday and described the storms as inflicting “devastating damage.” He was traveling to Sharkey County to view firsthand the toll.
President Joe Biden and Deanna Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, communicated to the governor that the federal government is sending resources and workers.
“To those impacted by these devastating storms, and to the first responders and emergency personnel working to help their fellow Americans: we will do everything we can to help. We will be there as long as it takes. We will work together to deliver the support you need to recover,” Biden said in a statement.
Mississippi emergency officials said that crews were still searching for people.
“We have numerous local and state search and rescue teams that continue to work this morning. A number of assets are on the ground to assist those that have been impacted,” the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said.
The storms struck the state on Friday night and wreaked havoc before moving into Alabama.
Barns, trees, and power lines were brought down by the weather.
As of Saturday morning, tens of thousands of households in the South were without power, according to poweroutage.us.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.