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Mississippi Tornadoes

How a town can die.

Towns can die from disasters. Homes without property insurance are destroyed, businesses are wiped out and not rebuilt, the population declines as people move away to find housing and jobs. For small towns across America, that can be the story. Sometimes it is flooding and other natural disasters that put a knife in the heart of a small town.

Mississippi is being tested now. The population of Rolling Fork is 1,776 people — small-town America for sure. Then there is Silver City, population of 217 souls, that was also damaged in recent tornadoes. Will these two small towns rebound or will they just dwindle? The future is uncertain for sure.

Springfield, Ohio, where the recent train derailment occurred, has a population of 58,000. Larger by many times over, it sustained no physical destruction but plenty of physiological impacts to the people who live there.

Not to end on a “downer,” there is this story of survival and renewal by one town impacted by a disaster: “Pierce City reinvents itself after tornado.”

The cities of Silver City and Rolling Fork are going to need to write their futures.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.