'Wiped off the map': South braces for more severe weather after tornadoes leave 26 dead. Live updates.


ROLLING FORK, Miss. – The South was bracing for another wall of severe weather Sunday, two days after violent tornadoes smashed across the Mississippi Delta region, gutting rural towns and leaving more than two dozen people dead.

Search and rescue teams continued to dig through the rubble Sunday. At least 25 people died in a twister that stayed on the ground in Mississippi for more than an hour Friday night. Houses were torn from foundations, trees were stripped of branches, cars were flipped like toys, entire blocks were wiped out. 

Rolling Fork, about 60 miles northwest of Jackson, suffered such damage that Mayor Eldridge Walker declared bluntly to CNN, "My city is gone." 

Rodney Porter, who lives about 20 miles south of Rolling Fork and belongs to a local fire department, said the devastation was overwhelming. “It’s like a bomb went off,” he said, describing houses stacked on top of houses.

One man died in Morgan County, Alabama, the sheriff’s department there said.

The supercell that spawned the deadly Mississippi twister that moved across 170 miles also appeared to produce tornadoes that caused damage in northwest and north-central Alabama, said Brian Squitieri, a severe storms forecaster with Storm Prediction Center. Dozens of people were injured, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency reported.

"A large portion of the state has the potential to see severe storms Sunday evening," the agency tweeted. "Expect damaging wind gusts. Tornadoes cannot be ruled out. Have a plan. Know your safe place. Have multiple ways to receive alerts."

►Pope Francis offered a special prayer Sunday for the people of Mississippi “hit by a devastating tornado” during his weekly noon blessing in Vatican City.

►President Joe Biden early Sunday issued an emergency declaration for Mississippi, making federal funding available to Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe and Sharkey counties, the areas hardest hit Friday night. Biden called the damage "heartbreaking."

►Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency and vowed to help rebuild. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell was scheduled to visit the state Sunday.

Damage is visible March 26, 2023, in Rolling Fork, Miss., after a tornado ripped through the community.

Tornado, storms slam Georgia

A confirmed tornado slammed down near Cannonville, Ga., on the Alabama border Sunday, leaving behind "significant damage," the LaGrange Daily News reported. The storm also brought half-dollar size hail. "Many buildings damaged, people trapped," the Georgia Mutual Aid Group said on Facebook. The group said I-85 was closed in both directions and vehicles were damaged because of "many trees" across the interstate.

Two tigers escaped their enclosures Sunday at Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain after the park sustained extensive tornado damage, the park announced on its Facebook page. The post said the park sustained extensive tornado damage but that no employees nor animals were hurt. 

"THE TIGERS ARE SAFE!" the post said. "Both have now been found, tranquilized, and safely returned to a secure enclosure."

How you can help

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety is accepting local donations of bottled water, canned goods and paper products for the victims of the storms. Here are just some of the other ways you can help:

•The Salvation Army's Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi office said it was delivering supplies in mobile feeding units. The agency is accepting donations here.

•The Red Cross said more than 100 trained disaster workers are on the ground in Mississippi and more help was on the way. To donate, visit redcross.org, call 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767), or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

•Save the Children’s emergency response teams were mobilizing supplies including water, food, diapers and hygiene kits for families. You can help fund the effort by donating here

What is the Sunday forecast in the South?

A cold front is expected to stall across the South, and moisture from the Gulf could help fuel showers and thunderstorms into the day Sunday, some of which could be severe, according to the National Weather Service.

Intense thunderstorms were already breaking out in parts of the Southeast on Sunday, Accuweather reported. Several severe storm warnings were issued in Mississippi and Alabama, and hail larger than golf balls was reported. The same states pummeled with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes on Friday could be at risk into Sunday night, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bill Deger.

Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Columbia, South Carolina could be most at risk, forecasters said, as well as Jackson, Mississippi, and Montgomery, Alabama. Damaging winds of 60-70 mph, large hail and a few tornadoes were possible, Accuweather said.

Alaina Dean, 8, and her mother, Shannekia Miles, salvage what they can from their home in Rolling Fork, Miss., on March 25, 2023, after a tornado cut through the small Delta town.

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