Mississippi tornado survivor says it felt like storm was ‘trying to suck us up’

At least 25 people were killed in Mississippi and 1 was killed in Alabama when violent tornadoes tore across the Deep South on Friday, March 24, 2023.

ROLLING FORK, Ms. – A terrifying scene unfolded in the community of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, on Friday night when a deadly EF-4 tornado tore through the community destroying everything in its path.

Two days later, as the community begins the painful task of picking up the pieces and starting the long road to recovery, incredible stories of survival are emerging.


FOX Weather correspondent Robert Ray is in Rolling Fork, speaking with survivors and getting a firsthand look at the damage and destruction in the community.

He spoke with a woman live on FOX Weather on Sunday who was on the phone with her sister and described how she survived the tornado.

"It was scary," she said. "But I was not home. I never stay home when the weather is bad. I was right around the corner at a friend’s house. When the meteorologist said that the tornado was coming toward Rolling Fork, and he said, ‘get in your safe place now,’ it was like a demand. We knew it was bad."


She said when she heard the meteorologist say that, everyone ran and piled into one of the hallways inside the home.

"As soon as we hit the floor, the tornado, you could hear it coming," she added. "It sounded like a freight train. It sounded like it was coming straight for us."

She said the tornado lifted the home's roof, and it felt like the tornado was "trying to suck us up."

That’s when they all laid on top of each other.


"We just prayed to God that he would spare us," she told Ray. "And it didn't last no more than, it didn’t seem like more than 10 minutes, and it was gone. And when we went to look outside the door, everything was gone."

Ray assured her that help was coming and resources would be available to help victims get back on their feet.

In fact, Pres. Joe Biden on Sunday approved Mississippi’s major disaster declaration that would free up federal funds to help the victims.

"I talked to so many yesterday, and we thank God for you all coming to assist us," she told Ray. "You know, it’s just by the grace of God we are still here."

At least 21 people were killed in Mississippi, and 1 was killed in Alabama when the storms tore through the Deep South on Friday night.

Initially, the death toll in Mississippi was believed to be 25, but has since been lowered.

"During a disaster, numbers are likely to change," the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) said. "Now that search and rescue efforts have been demobilized, MEMA can confirm a total of 21 storm-related fatalities."

One of the hardest-hit communities was Rolling Fork, where most of the fatalities in Mississippi were reported.

According to the National Weather Service office in Jackson, Mississippi, the Rolling Fork twister has been given a preliminary rating of EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. That means it had winds of at least 166 mph. Officials said they are still determining the final rating. 

According to NOAA data, the last EF-4 tornado in Mississippi happened on April 19, 2020, in the town of St. Paul.