ROLLING FORK, Miss. — Cleanup is underway in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, after an EF-4 tornado packing winds of 166 miles per hour or more all but leveled the town Friday night.
In the tight-knit Sharkey County community, 13 people were killed but many survived and are giving thanks.
Georgia Russell, her son, and her three great-grandchildren survived Friday’s twister by hunkering down in a back bedroom of her home in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.
“It’s an experience that many won’t go through in their lifetime, and when you get through, you say, ‘thank you, Jesus,'” Russell said. “In my house, I have some beams that I don’t know where they came from and how they got in there. There was metal, tin, looks like a metal roof inside of my house.”
While Russell’s home is heavily damaged, on most streets in town, nothing is left remotely resembling a home.
Thankfully, Ophelia Stewart wasn’t home when the tornado hit but she was around the corner having dinner with church members.
“It sounded like a freight train coming straight at us, and when the wind got directly over the house, we could tell because it felt like it was trying to suck us up,” Stewart said.
Stewart said after the storm passed, it was eerily quiet, and then they heard someone calling for help.
Volunteer disaster relief groups have been set up at several locations along Highway 61 in Rolling Fork, bringing much-needed donations.
“We got food, we got toys, they pretty well wiped us out on undergarments as far as underwear, socks,” said volunteer Tyler Olsen.
People we spoke with each have their own stories of survival, and unfortunately, in a small town like this, each of them knows someone who died in this tornado.
FEMA has people on the ground in Rolling Fork encouraging anyone impacted by the tornado to file their insurance claim. You can contact FEMA by calling 800-621-3362 or online here.