MEMA deploying search and rescue units to Sharkey, Humphreys counties following tornado

Former Rolling Fork Mayor Fred Miller shared photos of damage from Friday night's tornado.
Former Rolling Fork Mayor Fred Miller shared photos of damage from Friday night's tornado.(Fred Miller)
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 9:35 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State emergency officials are deploying search and rescue units to Sharkey and Humphries Counties, including Rolling Fork Friday night after a tornado devastated the area.

“We do have state search and rescue assets deploying. They’re asking for a full task force to go,” said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director of Communications Malary White.

“They’re going up there to assess the situation and assist in any way possible where they can.”

White said the primary role will be assisting local emergency responders in locating and helping victims.

Health officials also will be going to the city to assess damage to a hospital there.

“We’re making sure people are alive and accounted for. We’re not really focused on counting the number of houses damaged, but that people are accounted for,” she said. “That’s their main priority - life safety.”

Gov. Tate Reeves, meanwhile, said the state had “activated medical support - surging more ambulances and other emergency assets to those affected.”

Melinda Newell Miller posted on her Facebook page that her mom and her mom’s fiancé had been trapped in their truck for more than an hour after taking shelter at a car wash next to Chuck’s Dairy Bar.

Miller said the truck was covered with wood, metal and other debris, and believes the weight of it likely protected them.

“She’s with her fiancé and two dogs and I think they are... everybody’s OK,” she said. “He just went live [on social media] to show that he was OK. But he saw all this debris on his truck. It was like totaled.”

Miller has reached out to first responders who are on their way to the area and the couple was rescued shortly before 10:40 p.m.

White told WLBT’s Maggie Wade that MEMA initially had trouble getting in contact with officials on the ground and had already deployed some resources prior to speaking to her.

She said the agency also had alerted FEMA to the storm damage, and said the federal agency is monitoring the situation.

“At this time, we don’t have reports of injuries or fatalities,” she said. “When it’s daylight, we’re going to have a real look at how extensive the damage was.”

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