Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and state emergency officials were heading to hard-hit Shakey County in the western part of the state, near the Arkansas-Louisiana border.
Several state agencies were also “responding to the devastating tornado that swept across the state overnight,” according to a news release from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). “The safety of life is the number one priority and a damage assessment will begin shortly,” the agency said.
“Just completed a command briefing with our disaster response team,” reeves tweeted Saturday morning. “The devastation — everyone knows it. It’s a tragedy. I’m on my way to Sharkey County to be with the people who were first hit,” he said.
The state has reported 23 storm deaths so far in Sharkey, Humphreys, caroland monroe county. According to state emergency officials, “dozens” were still injured and at least four people were missing.
“Safety of life is the number one priority and damage assessments will begin shortly,” MEMA said, adding that several state agencies in Mississippi are responding.
The transport sector suffers: While there were no reports of road damage in the Sharkey County area, a Mississippi Department of Transportation campus was severely damaged, MEMA said.
The hub is located near the small storm-ravaged city of Rolling Fork.
“Some MDOT employees have damaged and/or lost homes in the Rolling Fork area,” MEMA said. Still, “some people with damaged homes reported overnight to keep roads in the area clear and safe.”
According to the statement, large trucks were bypassing Rolling Fork due to low or damaged power lines. The power company is working hard to make repairs.
“Humphreys County is using its multipurpose building as a shelter. The American Red Cross will be setting up a shelter at the Greenville Multipurpose Center. The Red Cross is also providing food, a thousand breakfasts, a thousand lunches Eat with a thousand dinners,” MEMA said.
Federal Resources: A FEMA team will also be traveling to the county, according to MEMA.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayoc said his department will “provide support to affected communities” through FEMA teams.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mississippi community hit by the devastating tornado,” Mayorkas said in a tweet, adding that he has been in touch with the governor. Reeves and the state’s lawmakers.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez, Nick Valencia and Jessica Jordan contributed reporting.