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US tornado: Mississippi town grieves dead and mourns shattered lives | US News


When a tornado smashed through the town of Rolling Fork in Mississippi it left Jermaine Wells pinned under a massive tractor tyre.

On the southwestern tip of the city is Seventh Street, and at the end of the road, surrounded on two sides by fields of farmland, is Jermaine and Chandra’s home.

It was the first house in this town to be hit when the tornado barrelled through on Friday night.

Jermaine was pinned under the tyre as the wind sent his car flying overhead.

I meet them in the rubble that remains. They have returned to retrieve what they can.

“I’m just coming to get whatever I can, clothes, anything I can salvage,” Jermaine tells me.

“It has become a disaster and a struggle. We don’t know what we’re going to have.

“We can’t pay nobody to clean this up. We just need help.”

Knowing what to do next is a problem replicated all along Seventh Street.

Every house here has been almost or completely destroyed.

This is one of the poorest areas of the poorest state in the US.

For many, it is now a case of survival.

But many consider it a conundrum they’re lucky to have.

Jermaine stands inside what remains of his home
Every house has been almost or completely destroyed
Every house has been almost or completely destroyed

Across the street, we meet David.

His parents were killed in their home when an 18-wheeled truck landed through their roof.

Too distraught to speak on camera, David describes them to me.

His mother Melissa Pierce was “the kindest woman you could ever meet” and his father Lonnie “was the best thing that ever happened to her”.

David says his loving parents “raised good kids and loved their grandkids”.

Melissa and Lonnie Pierce
Melissa and Lonnie Pierce
The truck that killed Lonnie and Melissa Pierce
The truck that killed Lonnie and Melissa Pierce

Kate Sisney, who lived opposite the retired grandparents for 18 years, says: “I’m going to miss them dearly. I’m glad they went together, because one couldn’t have survived without the other.”

Read more:
Risk of more severe weather in Mississippi ‘getting worse and worse’
Tornado kills at least 26 as it tears through southern US states

Kate Sisney's home was destroyed
Kate Sisney’s home was destroyed

The plight of the Seventh Street residents is mirrored across the town as it grieves the dead and mourns shattered lives.

The truck that killed Lonnie and Melissa remains where it fell.

It is a heartbreaking reminder of the long road to recovery faced by the people of Rolling Fork, and the loss of those left behind.


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