The death toll in relation to a tornado that ripped through the Mississippi Delta has risen to at least 26 people as more storms could hit the area, NBC News reports.
At least 25 people were confirmed dead in Mississippi, while one other man in Alabama was also reported to be killed in the devastation. On Sunday (March 26), the National Weather service Storm Prediction Center warned of "the possibility of a couple of strong tornadoes" in the central Gulf region amid ongoing recovery efforts.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency warned residents to "have a plan" and "know their safe place" amid the threat of more tornadoes in the area.
"A large portion of the state has the potential to see severe storms Sunday evening (3/26). Expect damaging wind gusts. Tornadoes cannot be ruled out. Have a plan. Know your safe place. Have multiple ways to receive alerts," the agency tweeted.
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster and ordered federal aid to help recovery efforts Sunday morning, the White House confirmed in a statement obtained by NBC News. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency and more than a dozen shelters were opened to accommodate residents displaced by the storm.
The tornado was reported to have an EF-4 rating with winds estimated between 166 and 200 MPH, according to preliminary data.
“It sounded like a freight train,” said Andrew Dennard, 28, via NBC News, adding that he narrowly avoided an airborne piece of wood from hitting his head as it crashed into his home in Rolling Fork, shattering glass. “I don’t think we’re going to rebuild from this,” he added. “It’s worse than death.”
The tornado was reported to be on the ground for more than an hour at a speed of at least 170 MPH, Lance Perrilloux, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, confirmed to the Associated Press.
“That’s rare — very, very rare,” Perrilloux said.