Technology among recovery challenges in Mississippi

  • At least 313 structures in Mississippi were destroyed and 25 were killed
  • Poverty is adding to the challenges of recovering from the mass destruction
  • Official: “They don’t have a lot of infrastructure, no power, no water”

(NewsNation) — Mississippi is bracing for a daunting, long road to recovery after a deadly tornado tore a path of destruction, obliterating homes and flattening entire communities.

The tornado killed 25 and injured dozens in Mississippi. It destroyed many homes and businesses in Rolling Fork and the nearby town of Silver City, leaving mounds of lumber, bricks and twisted metal behind.

In a briefing Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said preliminary assessments show 313 structures in Mississippi were destroyed and more than 1,000 structures were affected in some way.

John Elfer, director of Warren County Emergency Management, is assigning Sharkey County officials in their recovery efforts. He said the biggest challenge they face is that the rural area lacks infrastructure and some technologies, unlike urban areas.

“They don’t have a lot of infrastructure, no power, no water, and some of that has been restored, but the internet is hit or miss,” he said. “So a lot of technology that you would have, in a more urban environment, we don’t have that here. So that’s always the challenge.”

Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the U.S., and the majority-Black Delta has long been one of the poorest parts of Mississippi — where many people work paycheck to paycheck in jobs tied to agriculture.

President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration for Mississippi early Sunday, making federal funding available to hardest-hit areas.

As volunteers comb through the devastation, Sherri McKinney, national spokesperson for the American Red Cross, said the focus is on providing residents with immediate needs like prescription medications, food and shelter.

“We do have hundreds of volunteers here from all over the United States responding to help residents try to get back on their feet after something this hard. You know, we’re providing them with cleanup tools with tarps. We’re also providing medical help for them. These people also lost prescriptions and medical equipment that has to be replaced quickly. We’re providing sheltering for residents of Mississippi. So we’re truly trying to get boots on the ground,” McKinney said.

The American Red Cross and FEMA are still deploying workers and aid supplies to the hardest-hit areas. You can donate specifically to help people affected by the tornadoes here or by texting the word TORNADO to 90999 to make a $10 donation or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make a donation.

United Way of West Central Mississippi is also collecting water donations at their office in Vicksburg, about an hour outside of Rolling Fork. Check their Facebook page for updates on the location and timing. They are also accepting monetary donations on their chapter website, and ask you to specify “Rolling Fork” in the notes field to route your donations correctly.

If you are looking to volunteer time or resources, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency officials ask that you do not self-deploy but instead volunteer in coordination with Volunteer Mississippi here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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