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After a destructive EF-4 tornado ripped through communities like Rolling Fork along the Mississippi Delta, on Friday night, federal agencies have begun working with local communities to deliver resources in what will undoubtedly be a long road to recovery.
Destroying homes, businesses, schools and other critical infrastructure, the predominantly Black community of Rolling Fork remains in mourning after the storm left dozens dead across the state.
Marcus Coleman serves as the director for the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In an interview with The Black Wall Street Times on Wednesday, he acknowledged the gravity of the damage and detailed the resources available for residents.
“I was actually in Rolling Fork on Sunday,” Coleman told the Black Wall Street Times when asked what the timeline for recovery looks like.
“The videos and photos cannot be overstated enough. It is destruction there for sure. The timeline starts now,” Coleman said.
Rolling Fork seeks recovery after damaging tornado
The National Weather Service in Jackson released more details of the traumatic damage on Monday. The survey said the tornado that ransacked the small town of Rolling Fork and Silver City, both over 70% Black, began in northern Issaquena County. It moved into Sharkey County at a speed of 170 miles, demolishing homes and flinging utility poles and school buses in the air.
One of the victims included the mother of Queen’terica Jones, who was in a car with her sister racing home. Jones was too late, as her mother had already perished by the time they arrived.
“I wouldn’t wish this pain upon nobody, not even an enemy,” Jones said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
“She was amazing. A sweetheart,” Jones said. “I mean, ain’t nobody perfect. Everybody goes through something, but our mom — everybody that’s known our mom knows she had a heart of gold.”
Meanwhile, efforts to repair the community are underway.
“We continue to take a holistic intergovernmental approach because we recognize that these are whole lives that are disrupted,” Coleman told The Black Wall Street Times. FEMA, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, the U.S. Dept. of Education, and the Small Business Administration are all working together to coordinate resources.
On Wednesday, the SBA announced it opened a Portable Loan Outreach Center in Sharkey County for individuals to apply for low-interest disaster loans, the Clarion Ledger reported.
Coleman outlined a list of resources available for those seeking support and for those seeking to help.
Residents in need of support can call the FEMA disaster assistance at 1-800-621-3362 or by going to https://www.disasterassistance.gov/.
Coleman also encourages those seeking to donate to tap into the local organizations already on the ground, such as the Divine Nine Black fraternity and sorority organizations active in Rolling Fork and surrounding communities.
“If you’re already a member of an organization, find out how those chapters are being involved in the community,” and then provide resources and donations to those grassroots organizations on the ground,” Coleman said.