ROLLING FORK, Miss. (NewsNation) — President Joe Biden says he plans to visit the Mississippi communities that were devastated by a preliminary EF-4 tornado last week.
At least 21 people in Mississippi and a man in Alabama died in the storms that tore across the Deep South over the weekend. The toll was especially steep in Sharkey County, in western Mississippi, where 13 people lost their lives in a county of just 3,700 residents.
In Sharkey County’s Rolling Fork, a family who lived in the area for decades told NewsNation it’s a miracle no one there died. But they did lose a cousin in a nearby town.
What was once a row of mostly mobile homes is now gone.
The Pinkins family said they had already sought shelter elsewhere before the tornado hit.
Troy Pinkins, who flew in from Seattle as soon as he heard the news, said at least 45 members of his family live on this road. Now, they’re living with other members of the family in town whose homes are still standing as they wait for assistance and temporary housing.
Pinkins says his cousin, who lived in a mobile home in a different part of town, was killed in the storm.
“You can give me every word in the dictionary that can describe the horrific or horrible things and it would be a complete understatement to everything I came to,” Pinkins said.
State officials in Mississippi say more than 1,600 homes across seven counties were damaged and at least more than 20 of them were mobile homes.
“What do you do if you live in a mobile home to be safe? Get out of it. If you live in a mobile home, find somewhere with a steady building,” said Clara Hite, whose mobile home was destroyed by the tornado.
But according to Hite, finding safe shelter would have been difficult.
“This storm? It didn’t matter if you were in a trailer or a brick home — it was still destroyed,” she said.
Now, all that’s left of Troy Pinkins’ family’s homes are happy memories.
“This land is part of your family,” he said. “Absolutely every memory I can think of is tied to this (area) … coming home from practice exhausted and my mom having food … summer and all the cousins playing.”
The family also has no plans of moving.
“Oh, we won’t be going anywhere,” he said. “We plan on making this better, smarter living.”
The Pinkins family says donations to this GoFundMe page will help them rebuild.