President Biden Offers Support to Mississippi


Sean Smith

President Joe Biden faces towards the end of a street after giving a speech in Rolling Fork, Mississippi on March 31, 2023.

As the sun rises on the razed city of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, the destruction left from the March 24 EF4 wedge tornado that leveled buildings, threw vehicles and killed thirteen residents comes to light. However, seven days later on March 31, 2023, it was unknown how much relief the federal government would give to Mississippi for the communities affected across the state.

On March 31, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited the city of Rolling Fork to meet with local, state, and federal officials, residents of the city and family members of the deceased. This was President Biden’s first trip to Mississippi as president, and the first president to visit the area since Theodore Roosevelt visited in 1902.


While meeting with local, state and federal officials, President Biden was informed on the storm damage, trajectory, and other statistics. Other members present during the pre-briefing and briefing of this information include Governor Tate Reeves, Mayor Eldridge Walker of Rolling Fork, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, Administrator Deanne Criswell of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Deputy Director Clayton French of the Mississippi State Emergency Agency.

President Biden, First Lady Biden and Mayor Walker also privately met with the family members of the deceased.

First Lady Biden greeted and talked to volunteers and members of the community outside of the building where President Biden was holding the meeting with officials. She posed for photos with Salvation Army and Red Cross volunteers, while also speaking to and taking photos with a Walmart volunteer and kids from the community.

After more time inside meetings, President Biden exited the building, was driven into a nearby neighborhood, and surveyed the damage. He walked down a street with the First Lady and other officials. He then talked to a family from the area.

He turned onto another street, where he walked up to a pre-placed podium to give a speech. During the speech, he read aloud the names of each of the thirteen local victims and reinforced the federal government’s commitment to Rolling Fork and Mississippi as a whole. “This is your community. This is where you built your life. We’re going to make sure you can stay right here.” said President Biden.

President Biden stated that he had signed a federal disaster declaration on the Sunday morning after the tornado hit, giving much-needed federal resources to the state and local governments. Among the benefits are the federal government covering one hundred percent of the overtime wages for local emergency responders to remove debris and cash grants to people who had property damaged in the storm. Additionally, President Biden announced that the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center would be opening locations in four counties, including Rolling Fork’s own.

“The town of Rolling [Fork] will be back. And we’ll be with you every step of the way.”