Before-and-after images show tornado devastation ripped across South as new twister threat issued

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Before and after images show the devastation in the town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi after a tornado on Friday night  (AP/Getty/ Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies)
Before and after images show the devastation in the town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi after a tornado on Friday night (AP/Getty/ Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies)

Satellite images have captured the scale of devastation wrought by a huge tornado which ripped a 170-mile path across southern states on Friday night.

Several rural towns suffered significant damage from the twister which left 25 people dead in Mississippi, one dead in Alabama, and dozens more injured.

Aerial images, from space technology company Maxar, revealed that the little town of Rolling Fork, close to the Mississippi River Delta, was largely obliterated after it took a direct hit.

Satellite images showing (left) Walnut street in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, on December 27, 2022, and (right) the same street in the aftermath of Friday’s tornado (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies)
Satellite images showing (left) Walnut street in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, on December 27, 2022, and (right) the same street in the aftermath of Friday’s tornado (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies)

High-resolution satellite imagery captured on Sunday shows the extent of the damage when compared to previous images collected on December 27, 2022.

Neatly-kept neighborhoods of modest homes dotted with greenery have been transformed into unrecognizable piles of wood, metal and rubble, the trees ripped from their roots. Vehicles were flipped over like toy cars.

Residents took shelter from the tornado in bath tubs and hallways, and in one instance a restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator. Later, people broke into a still-standing John Deere store and converted it into a triage center for the wounded, The Associated Press reported.

In the town of Amory, local resident Leah Ann Hubbard told The Independent how she climbed into her bathtub with her dogs and pulled a mattress over them.

“It was harrowing, all I heard was rain beating down, and it must’ve been thunderous,” she said. “It’s hard to remember because you’re in fight-or-flight mode. Above all, you just feel the power.

“You know that there is a monster swirling over your house and over your town, and there’s nothing you can do. And you’re just praying for yourself and for everybody else.”

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows homes along Walnut and Mulberry streets in Rolling Fork on Dec. 27, 2022 (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologie)
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows homes along Walnut and Mulberry streets in Rolling Fork on Dec. 27, 2022 (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologie)
Walnut and Mulberry streets in Rolling Fork, on Sunday, March 26 2023 after a tornado wreaked havoc in the area (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies)
Walnut and Mulberry streets in Rolling Fork, on Sunday, March 26 2023 after a tornado wreaked havoc in the area (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies)

The tornado was given a preliminary rating of EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale of intensity, marking it as a rare and powerful storm with the ability to destroy buildings and toss large objects including vehicles.

More than 300 structures in Mississippi were entirely destroyed, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said on Monday with more than 1,000 impacted overall. Shelters have been opened for those who are displaced.

President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration for Mississippi on Sunday meaning that federal funds will flow to the worst-impacted areas.

But the threat isn’t over yet in parts of the southeast. The National Weather Service (NWS) warned on Monday that there is a new risk of strong to severe storms with damaging wind gusts, hail and brief tornadoes today from southeast Alabama across central Georgia and heading into South Carolina.

Isolated instances of damaging winds were also expected through early evening, NWS said.

“A tornado cannot be entirely discounted across parts of Georgia and southern South Carolina,” the agency added.