Rolling Fork resident describes miraculous survival of Friday night's devastating tornado

As the days pass following the deadly EF4 tornado that demolished the town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, more stories of survival from residents have come to the forefront. Many of the locals in Rolling Fork battled to stay alive against the twister's ferocious winds that leveled homes and sent trees crashing to the ground.

An example of courage can be found in Rolling Fork resident Gene Fulton, who had his home and auto shop on the southwest side of the town destroyed by the tornado. The three-bedroom brick house had just been remodeled by Fulton, who still can't believe what he and his neighbors went through on March 24.

"In a couple minutes, it's gone. Just don't know what to say about it ... the whole town's gone," Fulton told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell.

Fulton had left home for a meal that night and was attempting to get back home to safety before the worst of the storm, but the storm was moving much too quickly. On the way home, Fulton's night turned into a nightmare when he crashed his truck into a downed tree and flipped over in the vehicle several times.

"I turned to the left real quick, and when I did ... [a] tree came around and hit the truck ... that tree jumped right out in front of me," Fulton said.

He climbed out with the truck flipped over on its roof, noting that "you don't really know where you're at" in the first moments after a dangerous accident. Fulton miraculously survived with only scratches and scrapes.


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After ensuring he was alright, Fulton had to check on those close to him, such as his son, who was caught inside the home when it collapsed. Fulton's son was trapped in the debris at the house until a first responder discovered him and took him to the hospital for evaluation. "[He] came out with minor scratches and bruises, no broken bones," Fulton said.

Nothing was left of Gene Fulton's auto shop after a tornado landed in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, on March 24. (AccuWeather/Bill Wadell)

One of Fulton's auto shop workers had to be airlifted to a local hospital with leg injuries, highlighting the toll that Rolling Fork and other Mississippi residents went through that evening. According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, 21 people were killed from severe weather on March 24, including in the tornado that tore up Rolling Fork during a 59-mile path of devastation. The agency shared that between the seven impacted counties in Mississippi, over 1,600 homes were damaged.

For Fulton, losing his house wasn't the end of the world, telling Wadell that he hopes to build a new home on the same plot of land.

"It [was] rough," Fulton said of the experience. "Real rough ... just thankful to be alive. Me and the family, we can survive. We can always rebuild."

Reporting by AccuWeather's Bill Wadell

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