'We're going to get it done for you,' Biden says on tour of Mississippi tornado damage

2:30 p.m.: Biden promises tornado victims support now and in the future in Rolling Fork speech

President Biden stood in front of a pile of twisted blue metal and wood that had once been an animal shelter and an auto parts store. Trees behind him were completely stripped of their branches, making the area look even more desolate.

He talked about the damage he'd seen while touring Rolling Fork and the families he met of some of those killed in the storm. He read out the names of 13 people who died and said he understood the difficulty of sudden loss.

He also spoke of the federal government's commitment to all the Mississippi communities affected by the storms.

Biden said the federal government will pay 100% of the recovery costs for 30 days. For affected residents, he spoke of various government resources to help them rebuild their lives. He said there are 300 federal employees on the ground to help make a well-coordinated response.

"We're trying to make it as easy as possible," Biden said.

He also assured residents his administration would continue to provide support for the long-haul.

"We're not just here for today," Biden said. "I'm determined we're going to leave nothing behind. We're going to get it done for you."

1:50 p.m.: President Biden reacts to seeing damage in Rolling Fork

After arriving in Rolling Fork today to tour damage left by a deadly March 24 tornado, Biden reacted to the sight of the destruction.

'It’s devastating," Biden said.  "(Inaudible) — I mean it: We're not leaving.  The federal government is going to stay as long as it takes.  I've given every extension, if it’s possible; 100 percent debris removal. "So it’s going to get done.  But the most important thing is we got to let people know there's reason for them to have hope, because this is — especially the people who lost somebody. We've been at a bunch of these together.  This is — this is — this is tough stu- — tough stuff."And the thing that really is — always amazes me, in all the tornadoes I've been to of late, is that you have one house standing and one house, from here to the wall, totally destroyed.  It’s but for the grace of God.  But at any rate, I'll be — I’ll be out to talk more about this in a minute."

Afterward, Biden and the First Lady toured the area and met with some of the affected.

Also touring the storm-damaged area were:

  • Governor Tate Reeves, Mississippi

  • Elee Reeves, First Lady of Mississippi

  • Secretary Marcia Fudge, Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • Administrator Deanne Criswell, Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS-02)

  • Mayor Eldridge Walker, Rolling Fork, Mississippi

  • Board of Supervisors President Bill Newsom, Sharkey County, Mississippi (District 1)

  • Police Chief Michael Myles, Rolling Fork, Mississippi

  • Becky Myles, Spouse of Police Chief Michael Myles

  • Farren Washington, Granddaughter of Police Chief Michael Myles

  • Other local residents impacted by the storm

1:06 p.m.: Biden greeted by state, local and federal officials

From Marine One, as they flew from Jackson to the area hardest hit by last week’s storm, the president and first lady Jill Biden got a view of the devastation across acres of farmland — destroyed homes, toppled trees and piles of debris.

“This is tough stuff," Biden said as he was greeted by state, local and federal officials after arriving in Rolling Fork. “The most important thing is we got to let people know the reason for them to have hope, especially those who have lost somebody."

What we know about the people who died: All 21 March 24 tornado victims in Mississippi identified

11:50 a.m.: President arrives in Rolling Fork, press pool witnesses devastation

The motorcade arrived at the South Delta Elementary School, Rolling Fork, Mississippi at 11:37 am CDT for the briefing with federal, state and local leaders.

As Biden and the press pool rolled into town, the destruction was everywhere. Basically one home after another was just piles of wood and rubble. Cars flipped over on their roofs. Trees down. Electrical wires on the ground.

Every now and then, there was a house that looked largely untouched. But they were clearly the exception.

11:10 a.m.: MEMA warns of larger area with moderate risk for severe storms

The moderate risk area has expanded to include more counties in North Mississippi. Severe weather is expected Friday evening into Friday night. Now is the time to prepare your family. Make sure you have multiple ways to receive alerts and you know your safe place.

MEMA reports the moderate risk area for severe weather tonight into Saturday morning has been expanded.
MEMA reports the moderate risk area for severe weather tonight into Saturday morning has been expanded.

10:40 a.m.: Press briefed on federal aid for tornado recovery

In a press conference this morning, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefed members of the media on federal aid for storm clean-up and recovery in affected areas of Mississippi.

Jean-Pierre said the federal government has 300 people on the ground to assist with recovery efforts. Jean-Pierre also said Biden will announce the federal government will pay 100% of the recovery, shelter costs and clean-up costs for the next 30 days.

She also said the President will announce the opening of centers in storm-ravaged areas to help residents access resources available to them.

8 a.m.: Biden answers media questions

Prior to heading for Mississippi, President Biden was questioned about former President Donald Trump's indictment, a Wall Street Journal reporter arrested in Russia and the trip to Mississippi.

Q. Will the indictment divide the country?

Biden: “I have no comment on that.”

Q. Are you worried about protests?

Biden: “No. I’m not going to talk about the Trump indictment.”

Q. On the WSJ reporter, do you have a message for Russia?

Biden: “Let him go.”

Q. What does the indictment say about the rule of law?

Biden: “I have no comment at all.”

Q. Are you going to expel Russian diplomats for the WSJ journalist?

Biden: “That’s not the plan right now.”

Q. Are the charges politically motivated?

Biden: “I have no comment on Trump.”

7:25 a.m.: Biden has no comment on Trump indictment

President Biden exited the White House at 7:05 central time without commenting on the indictment of former President Donald Trump.

“I have no comment on Trump," Biden said when asked multiple times.

He said the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovitch should be released from Russia.

“Let him go,” Biden said before boarding Marine One to begin his trip to Jackson.

Presidential Mississippi visit at a glance

The Bidens will be joined by Gov. Tate Reeves and First Lady Elee Reeves, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Rep. Bennie Thompson, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker, and additional state, local and Tribal officials and first responders.

  • Around 11:30 a.m. President Biden and the First Lady receive an operational briefing by federal, local, and state officials in Rolling Fork on current response and recovery efforts.

  • The Bidens will then meet with community leaders and local residents impacted by the storms and thank first responders.

  • Following the meeting with community leaders, President Biden is expected to deliver remarks to reaffirm his commitment to supporting the people of Mississippi as they recover and rebuild from the devastating storms. The First Lady will attend.

Additional Mississippi counties eligible for FEMA assistance

Montgomery and Panola counties are now eligible for FEMA assistance after the March 24-25 storms.

Individuals and households in Montgomery and Panola counties can apply for FEMA Individual Assistance, which may include temporary housing assistance, basic home repairs and certain other uninsured disaster-related needs.

These counties join Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe and Sharkey counties, which were previously approved for Individual Assistance.

Survivors can apply for disaster assistance at disasterassistance.gov, by using the FEMA mobile app, or by calling 800-621-3362 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Time. If you use a relay service such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA the number for that service.

For an accessible video on how to apply for assistance go to, youtube.com/watch?v=WZGpWI2RCNw.

National Weather Service warns of severe storms

The National Weather Service has issued a warning of expected severe storms in parts of Mississippi tonight into Saturday morning.

Damaging winds up to 70 miles per hour, large hail and strong tornadoes are possible in parts of the state. Others may experience winds up to 60 miles per hour, quarter-sized hail and possible tornadoes.

The National Weather Service is warning of likely severe weather in Mississippi later today into Saturday morning.
The National Weather Service is warning of likely severe weather in Mississippi later today into Saturday morning.

Prepare now for expected severe weather

FEMA is urging a wide area of the country to stay alert and start preparing for weather risks from today into the weekend. The National Weather Service is predicting intense and widespread severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes in some areas.

Remain alert, keep your cell phone charged and take steps to prepare now to potentially save lives and protect property when severe weather strikes.

Severe weather, that could include long-track tornadoes, may occur from Friday afternoon into the overnight hours for a large portion of the Middle Mississippi Valley and the Mid-South. This dangerous weather risk will continue eastward into the Lower Ohio and Tennessee Valley.

Anyone living in these areas should take steps now ahead of the storms

  • Have several ways to receive alerts. Download the free FEMA App (available in English and Spanish) to receive real-time emergency alerts from the National Weather Service, and to find a nearby shelter if you evacuate

  • Pay attention to local alerts and warnings and follow any guidance by local officials.

  • Check on neighbors. As you prepare your family and loved ones for a disaster, check on neighbors and folks in your community to see if they are doing the same or help them get started.

  • Older adults may need extra assistance to prepare for the storms. Visit Ready.gov/seniors for more information. For people with disabilities and their families, it is important to consider individual circumstances and needs to effectively prepare for emergencies and disasters. Visit Individuals with Disabilities to learn more.

  • Prepare your property for dangerous weather now by cleaning out any large or loose materials near your property. Remove dead trees, hanging branches and loose objects in your yard or patio that could become a dangerous projectile during severe winds.

  • It's not too late to create a plan with your family. Visit Ready.gov/plan and use the new "Make a Plan" fillable form to walk through all the steps to begin your plan and then easily save an electronic copy, or share with other family members. Many shelters do not take household pets, so remember to create a plan and have supplies available for your pets.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Contact Brian Broom at 601-961-7225 or bbroom@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: President Biden tours Rolling Fork MS tornado damage