Lawmakers held a moment of silence on the House floor Wednesday to honor the victims of the deadly tornadoes that tore through Mississippi last week.
Twenty-one people were killed after tornadoes ripped through Mississippi on Friday night. The weather event marked the deadliest tornadoes in the Magnolia State since April 2011, according to The Associated Press.
House lawmakers — led by members of the Mississippi delegation — stood in silence in the chamber for roughly 30 seconds on Wednesday night to honor those killed in the storm and the first responders who helped save lives amid the tempest.
“The Mississippi delegation mourns the loss of those who lost their lives in the recent tornadoes that devastated our beloved state of Mississippi,” Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) said on the floor. “We also come together to honor the bravery and heroism of our first responders and county and city leadership, who worked tirelessly to save lives and restore order in the midst of chaos.”
“We know that the pain of loss and destruction is still fresh in your hearts. And we offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their loved ones,” he later added. “We cannot imagine the depth of your grief, but we stand with you in solidarity. As we mourn the loss of life we must also acknowledge the strength and resilience of our communities. In times of disaster, we come together to support one another and rebuild.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the dean of the Mississippi delegation, said the areas that saw damage from last week’s tornadoes are “communities that under the best of times, they struggle.”
A significant portion of the storm deaths were recorded in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, according to NBC News, a town where 21 percent of its residents are in poverty.
“And so for communities where we don’t have other transportation, where there’s not a single motel room in the entire county. The downtown area no longer exists. The people of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, Silver City, Mississippi, Black Hawk, and a lot of other communities that are only a zip code tied to some other people, we are saddened by that destruction,” Thompson said.
The Mississippi Democrat later said the “long-term recovery” could take “years.”
President Biden on Sunday declared an emergency to help with recovery and clean-up efforts in the state, and the White House revealed Wednesday that he and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Rolling Fork, Mississippi on Friday to survey damage from the storm.
“The President and the First Lady will visit with first responders, state and local officials, and communities impacted by the devastation from recent storms, survey recovery efforts, and reaffirm their commitment to supporting the people of Mississippi as long as it takes,” the White House said in a statement.