At least 21 people were killed after powerful storms and at least one tornado pummeled Mississippi on Friday night, ripping roofs off homes, nearly leveling some neighborhoods and knocking out power for thousands, officials said Saturday morning.
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado hit the towns of Silver City as well as Rolling Fork, which one resident described as obliterated following the storm’s devastating path.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Rolling Fork resident Brandy Showah told CNN. “This was a very great small town, and now it’s gone.”
At least 13 deaths were recorded roughly 60 miles northwest of Jackson in hard-hit Sharkey County, home to Rolling Fork, according to county coroner Angelia Easton.
Three others were killed and at least two people are in critical condition in Humphreys County, emergency management director Royce Steed told CNN early Saturday morning.
In Carroll County, three people died in one home, coroner Mark Stiles told CNN, adding that it appears they died from a tornado. And two people were killed in Monroe County in northeastern Mississippi, coroner Alan Gurley said.
In devastated Rolling Fork, the tornado damaged homes and buildings, gutted trees and tore down power lines in the area, Showah said. The tornado was moving at 50 mph when it was located over the town just after 8 p.m. CT, the weather service said.
Showah’s grandmother’s home suffered roof damage, and its air conditioners have been ripped out, Showah said, but her grandmother is safe. Most of the trees in her grandmother’s yard have been downed, including one that her grandfather planted 50 years ago.
“My friend was trapped in her home a few houses down, but we got her out,” Showah said, adding that there are still people who live next to her grandmother trapped in their homes. She said all the power in her grandmother’s area has been knocked out.
CNN has reached out to officials in Rolling Fork for additional details.
The severe storms cut a ruinous path across the region, trapping people in their homes, triggering search-and-rescue efforts and knocking out power in Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Downed trees and storm debris litter and block roads. Homes and buildings were nearly leveled, with household appliances, furniture and clothes lying where the walls or roofs of homes once stood, videos from the scene show.
The same “large and destructive” tornado was also confirmed near the community of Coila, according to the National Weather Service, which issued a tornado emergency – the most dangerous type of tornado warning – in Rolling Fork, Silver City and nearby Anguilla.
There have been at least 11 tornado reports across Mississippi and Alabama over the last 24 hours, according to the Storm Prediction Center. These reports include the storm that impacted Rolling Fork, Silver City and Winona in Mississippi.
It’s still unclear whether it was one long-tracked tornado or storms spawned multiple tornadoes. The National Weather Service plans to survey the damage Friday.
In response to the desolation in Mississippi, the state has activated its medical support efforts, including additional ambulances and other emergency resources for those affected by the onslaught of deadly storms, Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted late Friday.
“Search and rescue is active,” Reeves wrote. “Many in the MS Delta need your prayer and God’s protection tonight.”
Tornadoes or severe storms that occur at night have the greatest potential to be dangerous because people are less likely to be notified in time if they’re asleep.
The threat of severe storms persisted overnight for certain areas across northern Alabama and middle Tennessee, which faced tornado watches and warnings early Saturday.
The storms knocked out power for more than 100,000 homes and businesses across Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee as of 3:45 a.m. ET, with more than 50,000 outages reported in Alabama alone, according to tracking site PowerOutage.us.
In Morgan County, Alabama, storm debris stretched for about a mile, according to a tweet from the county’s sheriff’s office.
First responders rescued seven people who were trapped at a group home as trees and power lines collapsed on homes, the sheriff’s office said. The agency also responded to an overturned trailer and an overturned camper with persons trapped inside.