AMORY, Miss. — Residents in central Mississippi awoke Saturday morning to a trail of destruction caused by deadly overnight tornadoes.
Dozens of people were reported dead or injured and the town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, was essentially flattened by the storm, officials say.
The violent storm swept northeastward Friday night across much of Mississippi and Alabama. Emergency responders were surging to the area Saturday, and the death toll may still climb, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
'MY CITY IS GONE': Emergency officials report at least 23 dead from Mississippi tornadoes
How to give, receive help after the Mississippi tornadoes
The Rolling Fork National Guard/Civic Center and the Armory at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds were accepting donations for those affected by the tornadoes, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Officials at the Armory, which is open Sunday through Tuesday local time from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., were asking for donations of bottled water, canned goods and paper products.
Just a block away from the Armory, a group of residents from Forward Church were also providing free food, drinks and toiletries to those in need.
“When [residents] come to us, they’re hungry and thirsty,” Linda West, a member of Forward Church, said. “Some of them are so humbled and proud to be able to get anything."
The American Red Cross and other nonprofits were providing food and supplies at three shelter locations, the agency said in a statement.
The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division was accepting donations and had set up mobile feeding units. The United Way of West Central Mississippi is collecting water Sunday between noon and 3:00 p.m. and money online.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy said it was accepting donations toward longer-term recovery needs, including rebuilding homes and mental health services.
Volunteer Mississippi asked private citizens not to "self-deploy" to affected areas and said it will help connect volunteers with groups on the ground "when the time is right," officials said on Twitter.
How many people died in the Mississippi tornadoes?
At least 25 people were dead, dozens injured and four missing in the wake of a spate of tornadoes, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency confirmed Saturday. A man in Alabama who was stuck in the mud when a trailer was overturned also died of his injuries, according to the Morgan County Sheriff's Office.
Where is Rolling Fork, Mississippi?
The small town of Rolling Fork is located about 60 miles northwest of Jackson in west-central Mississippi, near the border with Louisiana and the Mississippi River.
Photos show damage from Mississippi tornadoes
How much damage did the Mississippi tornadoes cause?
Residents say the skyline they grew up seeing in Rolling Fork is unrecognizable after buildings were completely flattened.
Owners and employees at Chuck’s Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork survived the storm by huddling inside the restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator as winds berated the metal structure, Tracy Harden told USA TODAY.
Harden and her husband bought the decades-old diner 16 years ago, and it was a hub for the Rolling Fork community, she said. By Saturday morning, the gathering spot had been completely destroyed and the only things left standing were the refrigerator and a bathroom, where one more person hid to survive the tornado.
Saturday morning, over 12,000 households were without power in Mississippi, along with 18,000 in Alabama and 33,000 in Tennessee, according to poweroutage.us. By Saturday night, about 27,000 customers in all three states remained without power, according to the website.
What do we know about the tornado?
Storm reports and radar data show the tornado was on the ground for more than an hour, said Lance Perrilloux, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Jackson, Mississippi, office.
“That’s rare — very, very rare,” he said, attributing the wide path to widespread atmospheric instability. “All the ingredients were there."
What's the weather forecast in Mississippi?
Central Mississippi is expected to get more rain Sunday, with thunderstorms possible in the afternoon, according to AccuWeather.
Much of Alabama and Georgia face possible damaging winds Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
The likeliehood of severe weather has increased some this afternoon with @nwsspc upgrading both areas of concern to a Slight (level 2 out of 5) risk. Damaging wind is the main threat, though a tornado or two remains possible https://t.co/6Vi12eE971
— National Weather Service (@NWS) March 25, 2023
Contributing: Associated Press; Christine Fernando, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Photos of Mississippi tornado in Rolling Fork: What we know