Gov. Bryant addresses media after deadly storms; 7 dead - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gov. Bryant addresses media after deadly storms; 7 dead

(Photo source: Twitter) (Photo source: Twitter)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has declared a state of emergency in seven North Mississippi counties that were devastated by severe storms and tornadoes that ripped through the area Wednesday night.

Gov. Bryant spent the early afternoon in Benton County, getting his first look at a 150 mile path of destruction that tore through north Mississippi. "It's as bad as any tornado we've had," the governor said during a news conference outside one of the damaged buildings in Ashland, MS.

Seven people died when a series of 14 tornadoes twisted their way across the northern part of the Magnolia state. Four of the victims lived in Benton County. Two victims were from Marshall County. One lived in Tippah County.

"This should be a joyous holiday season and it won't be for many," Gov. Bryant said.

The governor talked about the "heartbreak" he saw in the debris scattered across small Mississippi towns. He noted much of the damaged was localized, and contained to wooded areas in that region. "At least the storm wasn't in highly populated areas like a downtown," he said.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Bryant declared a state of emergency, so local leaders could begin picking up what the tornadoes knocked down. "We believe now we're in the recovery stage," he said, believing everyone who lives in that region has been accounted for.

Gov. Bryant says he's hoping the impacted communities will get a federal disaster declaration, so FEMA representatives can visit Mississippi early next week and help storm victims qualify for any federal assistance. In the meantime, Gov. Bryant says, "We'll be on the ground as long as we're needed."

According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the following shelters are open in Mississippi:

  • Coahoma: Clarksdale Auditorium, 506 E. Second Street, Clarksdale.
  • Marshall: Marshall County Multi-Purpose Building, 185 N. Memphis Street, Holly Springs.
  • Tippah: Harmony Baptist Church, 28840 Hwy 15, Walnut.

Following the storms, the Red Cross deployed 11 staff and volunteers from Southeast Mississippi to the affected areas. An Emergency Response Vehicle and six volunteers from the Hattiesburg office joined tornado relief efforts in North Mississippi. 

The Red Cross is also encouraging victims to let friends and family know they are safe by registering on the Safe and Well website. Victims can also use the "I'm Safe" feature on the Red Cross app to alert others that they are safe. To download, text "GETNADO" to 90999.

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