Biden visits Mississippi town pummeled by deadly tornado


(ROLLING FORK, Miss.) — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden touched down in Mississippi on Friday, nearly a week following a severe string of tornadoes that tore through the South and left at least 26 dead.

The first couple will tour Rolling Fork, Mississippi, a delta-region city pummeled by a tornado which was later assigned the rare and powerful classification rating of EF-4. Across the state, one long-track twister left a trail of destruction for about 59 miles, according to officials. The president approved disaster relief for the state on Sunday.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba — one of Mississippi’s few elected Democrats — greeted the president and first lady after they landed in the city on Friday morning. They will traverse north to Yazoo City, where they’ll be briefed by federal, local and state officials on ongoing response and recovery efforts.

The Bidens will then travel east to Rolling Fork, surveying the disaster path and meeting with residents impacted by the storms.

The president will deliver remarks at 1:25 p.m. CDT, reaffirming his “commitment to supporting the people of Mississippi as long as it takes,” according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

The Bidens will be joined by Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and first lady Elee Reeves, as well as Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge and Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker will also be in attendance.

In Rolling Fork, President Biden will announce the federal government will cover the full cost of the state’s emergency measures for the next 30 days. This includes debris removal, running shelters and paying for first responders to work overtime, among other costs. Biden has taken similar actions in other disaster zones, such as in Florida after Hurricane Ian.

He will also announce that FEMA will open disaster recovery centers in four Mississippi counties to help victims of the tornadoes.

The president’s visit comes days after he approved Mississippi’s disaster declaration and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

Over the weekend, the president spoke with Reeves and other members of the state’s delegation and “approved an expedited, major disaster declaration for Mississippi and ordered federal funding be made available to support emergency response efforts,” according to Jean-Pierre.

“I just spoke with President Biden about the deadly tornados we faced overnight. He assured us FEMA would be there to support our response. The flood of support from governors, businesses, charities, and federal admin has been tremendous—matches the community here on the ground,” Reeves, a longtime Biden critic, said in a Tweet on Saturday.

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