President Joe Biden speaks after surveying the damage in Rolling Fork, Miss., Friday, March 31, 2023, after a deadly tornado and severe storm moved through the area. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited Rolling Fork on Friday to meet with survivors and witness damages from a deadly tornadoes that destroyed homes across Mississippi a week ago.

After landing Friday morning in Jackson’s Medgar Wiley Evers Airport, Biden and his team flew in a crew of helicopters to Yazoo County, where they then hopped into a motorcade that took them to Rolling Fork.

The president and first lady met with survivors in Rolling Fork, as well as with state and local officials, including Gov. Tate Reeves and Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker.

“This is tough stuff,” Biden told the press pool following his visit. “The most important thing is we got to let people know the reason for them to have hope, especially those who have lost somebody.”

At least 21 people died in the storm, 13 of them in Sharkey County, and 90 others were injured.

Biden’s staff announced Friday that the federal government is covering all of the costs of the state’s emergency response for up to 30 days of the recovery period, including removing debris, opening shelters, and providing overtime pay for first responders.

“We’re not just here for today,” Biden told residents, according to reports from the press pool. “I’m determined we’re going to leave nothing behind. We’re going to get it done for you.”

On Thursday, Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Montgomery and Panola counties as eligible for Individual Assistance. Anyone who was affected by the March 24-25 storms in those counties — as well as in Carroll, Monroe, Humphreys and Sharkey counties — can apply for money to pay for needs such as temporary housing and home repairs by calling 800-621-3362, or visiting

FEMA today announced registration centers to help affected Mississippians apply for assistance at the following locations:

  • Carroll County: J.Z. George High School at 900 George St., Carrollton, MS 38947 (closed on Sunday, Apr. 2)
  • Humphreys County: Humphreys County Library at 105 Hayden St., Belzoni, MS 39038
  • Sharkey County: Heritage Manor at 431 W. Race St., Rolling Fork, MS 39159
  • Monroe County: The Old Amory National Guard Building at 101 South 9th St., Amory, MS 38821

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said her agency is also going “door-to-door” in affected areas to help survivors apply for aid. Altogether, over 300 federal personnel are in Mississippi helping recovery efforts.

Criswell added that she spoke with the mayor of Amory, Corey Glenn, who told her that the city lifted its boil water notices. On Thursday, Glenn said the city still has over 400 homes without power, down from about 4,000 immediately after the storm.

The White House administration excluded local press’ access to the day’s events, despite two of Biden’s stops being marked as “Open Press” on his schedule. At one of those stops, where officials landed at the Yazoo County Airport, officers instructed local reporters to stand on a levee about 100 yards from the entrance of the airport. Mississippi Today gathered information on the visit from pool reports shared by national media.

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Alex Rozier, from New York City, is Mississippi Today’s data and environment reporter. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Open Secrets, and on In 2019, Alex was a grantee through the Pulitzer Center’s Connected Coastlines program, which supported his coverage around the impact of climate change on Mississippi fisheries.