U.S. News

Biden approves Mississippi disaster declaration; tornado death toll rises

By Adam Schrader   |   March 26, 2023 at 9:45 AM
Residents look through a destroyed home the day after a tornado in Amory, Mississippi, on Saturday. At least 26 people have been killed after an overnight tornado and severe weather on Friday. Photo by Thomas Graning/EPA-EFE

March 26 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Sunday approved a disaster declaration for four counties in Mississippi ravaged by tornadoes as the death toll rose to 26.

The White House said in a statement that the disaster declaration would make funds available for the counties of Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe and Sharkey.


"Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster," the statement reads.

The White House added that John Boyle of the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been appointed to coordinate the federal response to the affected areas.

"Jill and I are praying for those who have lost loved ones in the devastating tornadoes in Mississippi and for those whose loved ones are missing," Biden said in an additional statement.

"The images from across Mississippi are heartbreaking. While we are still assessing the full extent of the damage, we know that many of our fellow Americans are not only grieving for family and friends, they've lost their homes and businesses."

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, thanked Biden on Twitter for "recognizing the scale of the damage in Mississippi and approving our disaster declaration."

A massive storm ripped through several small town on an hourlong path of destruction Friday night that left at least 25 people dead in Mississippi, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said in a statement Saturday.

A man also died in Alabama after he was trapped in his mobile home during the storm, bringing the confirmed death toll from the storm to 26.

"Dozens more are injured. Four people reported missing have been found," the MSEMA said in a statement.

The tornado has received a preliminary EF-4 rating from the National Weather Service, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said in a tweet.

A tornado with an EF-4 rating can have three second wind gusts between 166 and 200 mph.

Mississippi may see further severe storms through Sunday night, the MSEMA said in a statement.

"Expect damaging wind gusts," the agency warned. "Tornadoes cannot be ruled out."