The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency downgraded the death toll in Friday’s storm in an announcement on Monday morning.
Previously reported at 25 dead, MEMA announced Monday that the death toll now stands at 21. They did not account for the discrepancy.
“During a disaster, numbers are likely to change. Now that search and rescue efforts have been demobilized, MEMA can confirm a total of 21 storm-related fatalities,” MEMA stated.
The EF-4 tornado left the most damage in Rolling Fork in the Delta before cutting its way Northeast and doing major damage in the Amory area.
MEMA announced the deaths by county as the following:
- Carroll County: 3 fatalities
- Humphreys County: 3 fatalities
- Monroe County: 2 fatalities
- Sharkey County: 13 fatalities
They also announced that seven different counties have been affected and that 1,621 homes have been damaged in a preliminary account. that is subject to change.
Update at 12:55: Governor releases injury totals
Gov. Tate Reeves followed up on MEMA’s revised death toll and also announced injury totals by county. The severity of the injuries was not reported.
- Carroll County: 5 injuries
- Humphreys County: 15 injuries
- Monroe County: 50 injuries
- Sharkey County: Not confirmed
In addition, Reeves announced there were more than 24,000 without power as of 6 a.m. Monday, with 16 counties affected.
Residents in Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe, and Sharkey Counties can now register for FEMA Individual Assistance by going online to disasterassistance.gov or calling 800-621-FEMA (3362)
What to Expect After You Apply for FEMA Assistance
If you live in Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe or Sharkey counties and were affected by the March 24-25 tornadoes, FEMA may be able to help with temporary lodging expenses, basic home repairs or other essential disaster-related needs that are not covered by insurance, officials said in a press release.
There are several ways to apply: Go online to DisasterAssistance.gov, use the FEMA app for smartphones or call 800-621-3362, according to the press release. If you use a relay service, such as video relay (VRS), captioned telephone or other service, give FEMA the number for that service.
FEMA will ask for:
- A current phone number where you can be contacted.
- Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying.
- Your Social Security Number.
- A general list of damage and losses.
- Banking information if you choose direct deposit.
- If insured, the policy number or the agent and/or the company name.
If you have homeowner or renter insurance, you should file a claim as soon as possible. FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance. If your policy does not cover all your damage expenses, you may be eligible for federal assistance.
FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams will be in communities soon to help survivors apply for assistance.
If you report that you cannot, or may not be able to, safely live in your home, FEMA may need to perform an inspection of the damaged dwelling. The inspection may be conducted at the site of the damaged dwelling or remotely. FEMA will contact you to let you know how the inspection will take place.
For remote inspections, FEMA inspectors will contact applicants to answer questions about the type and extent of damage sustained. Survivors with minimal damage who can live in their homes will not automatically be scheduled for a home inspection. However, they may request an inspection if they later find significant disaster-caused damage.
Remote inspections have no impact on the types of Other Needs Assistance available that do not require an inspection. These include childcare, transportation, medical and dental, funeral expenses, moving and storage, and others.
For an accessible video on FEMA home inspections, go to youtube.com/watch?v=kXMaDkY3Q2o.
Mississippi Press Association to help newspapers
The Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, has established two funds to help perpetuate local journalism in communities affected by the devastating tornadoes that struck the state March 24, 2023, according to a press release.A Go Fund Me campaign with a goal of $15,000 has been set up by the Foundation to assist Deer Creek Publishing, publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork, continue operations in the coming months as the town and county recover from a preliminary E-F4 tornado that killed at least two dozen residents, the release states.”This fund will be used to cover essential operating costs such as printing fees and delivery expense,” said MPAEF Chairman Jack Ryan, publisher of the Enterprise-Journal in McComb. “The Pilot has an excellent reputation for news coverage in a community that has long struggled with poverty and population loss.”Ryan said the fund will help support local journalism by the only newspaper located in Sharkey and Issaquena counties.Additionally, MPAEF has reestablished its Local Journalism Relief Fund, a campaign dedicated to help local newspapers and employees facing adversity after natural disasters. The fund originally provided support to local media following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the press release states.Contributions to either fund are tax deductible under the IRS code. “We are deeply grateful for any support given to these campaigns,” said Layne Bruce, MPA secretary and executive director of the Mississippi Press Association. “Local journalism has never been more important, particularly in times of crisis. With Rolling Fork’s commercial base essentially destroyed, the newspaper and editor Natalie Perkins need immediate support to continue serving the local community.”
MEC offers Tornado Relief Resource page
The Mississippi Economic Council has developed a Tornado Relief Resource page to provide information on ways to assist in the aftermath of the deadly tornado outbreak this weekend. Tornado Relief Resources
What you need to know:
Volunteer Mississippi is asking private citizens not to self-deploy. They will work to match unaffiliated volunteers with affiliated groups on the ground when the time is right.
- Items needed the most:
- Bottled water
- Canned goods
- Paper products
- Pet food
- Diapers and wipes
- Manual can openers
- Baby formula
- Personal hygiene items
- Pet carriers
- Laundry detergent
- Cleaning supplies
Go deeper: A list of donation sites is provided Here.
Ways to help financially
In addition to the traditional ways to assist through the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, several groups are establishing funds to help those impacted by the tornadoes.
Why it matters: MEC will post information on ways to help as groups provide information and work to ensure these groups are providing resources to those who need them the most.
Please email Scott Waller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharkey County shelter relocating
Sharkey County Shelter is relocating to South Delta Middle School, 86 Middle School Road, Anguilla, opening at 5 p.m. Monday.
WIN job centers update
The Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) will open all WIN Job locations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to assist residents with filing claims and other appropriate information. The link for this page is https://mdes.ms.gov/unemployment-claims/claims-information/march-24-2023-tornadoes/. A dedicated phone line is also being created to assist those who do not have access to a computer or other smart device.
Update at 12:15: Department of Education releases school update
The Mississippi Department of Education continued its school assessment for the areas affected and announced the following:
South Delta School District (Sharkey County)
- The district superintendent reported on Sunday that school buildings were not destroyed but sustained roof damage. Schools are closed until further notice.
Amory School District (Monroe County)
- The high school roof sustained damage. A structural engineer has assessed the building to determine if it is safe to occupy. Schools are closed at least through March 31.
Carroll County School District
- There is no damage to the schools, but schools are going to be closed at least through Tuesday.
Winona School District (Montgomery County)
- No damage to the buildings have been reported. Schools were closed Monday and will be assessed daily.
New Albany School District (Union County)
- The buildings sustained some structural damage. Schools were open Monday.
Humphreys County School District
- No damage was reported to schools. Schools were open Monday.
Mississippi Department of Education officials also announced a couple of programs to help those affected:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients who have lost food due to a disaster must request a replacement at their local Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) office within 10 days of the disaster. Households can submit the replacement request using mail, email, or by using the upload feature on the MDHS website. (www.mdhs.ms.gov).
- The Department of Mental Health reports that the Region 6 Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) is responding to the community to bring supplies and meet mental health needs. Those specialists are available to provide services in the community for anyone experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The DMH Helpline is also available for information and referral services and can be reached at 1-877-210-8513.
Free hotel rooms offered
A family that prefers to remain anonymous has provided 115 motel rooms in Greenville through April 2 for people in the Rolling Fork area who were devastated by deadly storms that leveled much of the town on Friday night killing at least 21 people and destroying many homes.
More: Free hotel roomsMississippi tornado recovery: Free rooms available for Rolling Fork area disaster victims
As of noon Monday, roughly 30 rooms remained available. Check-in is at 3 p.m.
Transportation will be provided to Greenville, but there is currently no shuttle service back and forth to Rolling Fork.
For more information, call 678-822-2119 or 662-522-1664.
Update at 11 a.m.: Insurance workers on scene
The insurance industry has mobilized and is assisting residents in the recovery process after deadly and damaging tornadoes ripped through Mississippi over the weekend, according to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.
“Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by the violent weather,” said Hilary Segura, counsel, state government relations for the APCIA. “Anyone who experienced damage should contact their insurance company or agent to get the recovery process started. Insurers plan for severe weather and are prepared to immediately assist policyholders.”
While tornado activity frequently occurs in Mississippi, this weekend’s storms were particularly damaging, a press release states. Individuals impacted by the storms should put safety first as they take the necessary steps to begin the cleanup and recovery process, also listen to local and state officials during this emergency.
Insurance adjusters are already in the process of helping storm victims and the good news is that most severe weather-related events like tornadoes are covered under a homeowners, renters, automobile, or commercial insurance policy.
“Homeowners and renters insurance policies generally provide coverage for additional living expenses if a covered loss makes your home uninhabitable,” said Segura. “The additional living expense provision of your policy may help pay for things like temporary housing, laundry services, restaurant meals, and more. Additionally, if you experienced damage from the storm, do not become a victim twice by falling prey to illegitimate contractors seeking to making money off your situation.”
Let your insurer verify what repairs are necessary before you sign any contracts, then find a licensed and reputable contractor to do the work. Use your insurer or agent as a resource in helping to access the services needed to handle a claim and take the proper precautions to make sure they are hiring a reputable contractor to complete the job.
“Once you have filed your claim, there are a number of things you can do to help expedite the recovery process such as photographing the damage and making an inventory of what was lost and damaged,” said Segura.
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) is the primary national trade association for home, auto, and business insurers.
Sunday a day of recovery
Sunday in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, was a day of rummaging through what used to be the homes of residents in this Delta city.
Many were looking for whatever could be salvaged after a massive tornado on Friday abruptly changed their lives forever, despite summerlike temperatures. The high in Rolling Fork on Sunday was 88 degrees.
At least 25 people in Mississippi were killed in the storm.
Officials estimate 80% to 85% of the town was destroyed, leaving hundreds of residents homeless.
First responders from across the state are helping direct traffic, keeping hard-hit areas secure and providing other assistance as needed.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, was one of many government officials who toured the area Sunday. He thanked President Joe Biden for taking swift action in declaring a federal emergency disaster declaration for the areas of Mississippi hit by what is believed to be an EF4 tornado, according to preliminary reports.
Gov. Tate Reeves said Mississippians are tough and have shown resilience every time a disaster strikes. He said even though it’s not what he wants to see in his state, he is proud of how strong are the people of his state.
Other cities in Mississippi that were in the tornado’s path were faced with similar daunting piles of debris and barely recognizable homes and businesses.
In nearby Silver City, volunteers were rolling through the streets to offer whatever help they could. Among the volunteers were members of the Cajun Navy 2016 group — a volunteer search and rescue group from Louisiana. The group also worked in Rolling Fork on Sunday.
A day for praise, worship:The first Sunday after the storm in Rolling Fork leaves some churches closed, destroyed
Some churchgoers found their way to their places of worship and prayed at the sites where their churches once stood.
Volunteers arrived, bringing food, water and other necessities as well as offers of help in clearing debris. In Amory, the Humane Society was damaged and most of the animals relocated. Volunteers turned out to help, and now they are taking a step back to assess what needs to be done next.
Utility workers replaced poles and power lines to restore electricity as quickly as possible.
In Winona, Entergy reported its substation was damaged and 40 utility poles need to be replaced.
As of Sunday evening, more than 19,000 customers in Mississippi remained without power, most in the areas where Friday’s tornado hit, according to poweroutage.us. Nearly half of Sharkey County did not have electricity.
In other parts of Mississippi, residents watched and waited to see if another round of tornadoes would strike. Much of central and southern Mississippi saw thunderstorms and heavy rain. Some areas saw tennis ball-size hail while others were pelted with marble-sized hailstones.
A tornado watch remained in effect from late afternoon to late evening.
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Alice J. Roden started working for Trending Insurance News at the end of 2021. Alice grew up in Salt Lake City, UT. A writer with a vast insurance industry background Alice has help with several of the biggest insurance companies. Before joining Trending Insurance News, Alice briefly worked as a freelance journalist for several radio stations. She covers home, renters and other property insurance stories.