Biden set to visit tornado-hit Mississippi town: ‘Will be there as long as…’

PTI | | Posted by Animesh Chaturvedi
Mar 31, 2023 04:24 PM IST

Biden and first lady Jill Biden will survey the damage, meet with homeowners impacted by the storms and get an operational briefing from state officials.

President Joe Biden on Friday will visit a Mississippi town ravaged by a deadly tornado even as a new series of severe storms threatens to rip across the Midwest and the South.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrives at Mississippi town amid deadly tornado strikes.(Twitter)
Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrives at Mississippi town amid deadly tornado strikes.(Twitter)

Last week's twister destroyed roughly 300 homes and businesses in Rolling Fork and the nearby town of Silver City, leaving mounds of wreckage full of lumber, bricks and twisted metal.

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Hundreds of additional structures were badly damaged.

The death toll in Mississippi stood at 21, based on deaths confirmed by coroners. One person died in Alabama, as well.

Also Read: Tornado hit US' Mississippi ‘like a war zone’, say volunteers

Biden and first lady Jill Biden will survey the damage, meet with homeowners impacted by the storms and first responders and get an operational briefing from federal and state officials.

They are expected to be joined by Gov. Tate Reeves, Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Rep. Bennie Thompson, along with local leaders.

In a statement after the tornado, Biden pledged that the federal government would "do everything we can to help.”

“We will be there as long as it takes," he said.

"We will work together to deliver the support you need to recover.”

Presidents regularly visit parts of the U.S. that have been ravaged by natural disasters or suffered major loss of life from shootings or otherwise, although Biden has been criticised for not yet making a trip to the site of a toxic chemical spill in a small Ohio town.

He also has to decide whether to visit Nashville after three children and three adults were shot and killed at Covenant School.

Also Read: Massive tornado in Mississippi kills 25, dozens injured; Biden assures help

Last week's severe weather makes life even more difficult in an area already struggling economically.

Mississippi is one of the poorest states, and the majority-Black Delta has long been one of the poorest parts of the state — a place where many people live paycheck to paycheck, often in jobs connected to agriculture.

Two of the counties walloped by the tornado, Sharkey and Humphreys, are among the most sparsely populated in the state, with only a few thousand residents in communities scattered across wide expanses of cotton, corn and soybean fields.

Sharkey's poverty rate is 35%, and Humphreys' is 33%, compared with about 19% for Mississippi overall and less than 12% for the entire United States.

Biden approved a disaster declaration for the state, which frees up federal funds for temporary housing, home repairs and loans to cover uninsured property losses.

Also Read: 22 flights diverted as sudden Delhi rain causes chaos, more showers to come

But there's concern that inflation and economic troubles may blunt the impact of federal assistance.

Biden has spoken in separate phone calls with Reeves, Sen. Roger Wicker, Hyde-Smith and Thompson.

An unusual weather pattern has set in, and meteorologists fear that Friday will be one of the worst days, with much more to come.

The National Weather Service said 16.8 million people live in the highest-risk zone, and more than 66 million people overall should be on alert Friday.

According to a new study, the U.S. will see more of these massive storms as the world warms.

The storms are likely to strike more frequently in more populous Southern states including Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The study in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society predicts a nationwide 6.6% increase in tornado-and hail-spawning supercell storms and a 25.8% jump in the area and time the strongest storms will strike, under a scenario of moderate levels of future warming by the end of the century.

But in certain areas in the South the increase is much higher.

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