Documentary of Mississippi tornado to premier next week

Published 12:03 am Saturday, October 14, 2023

Mississippi Public Broadcasting will premiere the first episode of a new three-part documentary detailing the harrowing destruction and ongoing recovery in Rolling Fork, where a deadly tornado tore a path in March 2023.

The “Rolling Fork Tornado of 2023: Part 1 – Disaster in the Night,” will air Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. MPB has partnered with filmmakers Willy Bearden, a renown documentary producer and Rolling Fork native, and George Larrimore, a former writer, producer and managing editor for Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.

The March 24 tornado was part of a violent weather system that moved across the South. The twister killed 14 people in the town and left hundreds displaced.

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“The film documents that destruction and how neighbors and volunteers began to come together to help Rolling Fork rise from the rubble,” Bearden said. “It’s a story of terror, struggle and of unlikely heroes.”

The filmmakers interviewed people of the community, including Charles Weissinger, a former state legislator who shielded his grandson during the storm, and Natalie Perkins, the editor of the Deer Creek Pilot newspaper, who is also the second-in-command on the town’s emergency management team.

“A natural disaster is a tragedy anywhere it happens, but especially in a place like Rolling Fork, where 30 percent of all families live below the poverty line,” Larrimore said. “The question is, ‘Will Rolling Fork come back?’”

The program will also broadcast Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 22 at 10:30 a.m. and Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. Parts 2 and 3 will air in 2024. The film can be streamed live here.

-The Panolian