Devastating tornadoes carved a path of destruction across Mississippi late Friday into early Saturday and one meteorologist’s realization live on-air left him pausing to pray.
“Dear Jesus, please help them.”
A major disaster was declared Sunday in four Mississippi counties following severe storms that have reportedly taken the lives of at least 25 individuals and injured dozens more. Just before 11 p.m. Friday, after the weather had traversed much of the state, WTVA’s Matt Laubhan walked viewers through his projections for the path and found a tornado was headed for the north side of Amory, Mississippi.
“Here’s the thing about this, y’all trust me too much. I tell you where it’s going to go and some of you guys are like, ‘That’s where it’s gonna go.,'” he said as displayed a likely path on the map for the next two to three minutes. “The reality of this, this could be changing direction. So, Amory, we need to be in our safe place.”
It was then that the gravity of what he was telling viewers appeared to sink in and Laubhan said, “Oh man, north side of Amory, this is coming in.”
“Oh man,” the meteorologist continued, momentarily bowing down. “Dear Jesus, please help them. Amen.”
On his personal account with a bio that reads “JESUS ≥ Family ≥ weather,” Laubhan shared many images of the destruction from across the state.
From Chaser @AshtonLemleyWX in Amory #mswx. @matt_laubhan @wtva9news @NWSMemphis pic.twitter.com/HIJakdt8tE
— NMSCAS🌪🇺🇸 (@NMSCAS) March 25, 2023
The damage in Rolling Fork, MS is catastrophic. The entire town has been hit from the devastating tornado last night.
🎥 Emily Donovan via Facebook @spann | @matt_laubhan | @WJTV pic.twitter.com/MttzB2vTuZ
— Brad Logan (@BradLoganCOTE) March 25, 2023
By the following morning, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) was actively engaged in emergency management and took to social media to report, “At least twenty-three Mississippians were killed by last night’s violent tornados. We know that many more are injured. Search and rescue teams are still active. The loss will be felt in these towns forever. Please pray for God’s hand to be over all who lost family and friends.”
At least twenty three Mississippians were killed by last night’s violent tornados. We know that many more are injured. Search and rescue teams are still active.
The loss will be felt in these towns forever. Please pray for God’s hand to be over all who lost family and friends.
— Governor Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) March 25, 2023
Later Saturday, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency had updated that number and reported, “The State of Mississippi is continuing to respond to the devastating deadly tornadoes that swept through the state overnight on March 24, 2023. At this time, the death toll has risen to 25, and dozens of others are injured.”
According to Fox News, at least one tornado had cut a path roughly 80 miles, hoisting debris as high as 20,000 feet into the air and the ensuing damage had left 4,000 in Mississippi and 12,000 each in Alabama and Tennessee without power.
Take a look at this! This map was created by our GIS division based on track information provided by the NWS. The Rolling Fork/Silver City tornado has received a PRELIMINARY EF-4 rating. pic.twitter.com/wcIwas6wdp
— msema (@MSEMA) March 26, 2023
Sunday, President Joe Biden released a statement approving the disaster declaration for Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe and Sharkey counties and posted to Twitter, “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.”
Jill and I are praying for those who have lost loved ones in the devastating tornadoes in Mississippi and those whose loved ones are missing.
I spoke with @tatereeves, @SenatorWicker, @SenHydeSmith, and @BennieGThompson to express my condolences and offer full federal support.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 25, 2023
Though there was some positive news as four people who had initially been reported missing were accounted for, many more remained trapped in structures and more severe storms were forecasted to pass through the area Sunday evening, including the potential for more tornadoes.
‼️ 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. pic.twitter.com/afQfE5oDO8
— msema (@MSEMA) March 25, 2023
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