Why Rolling Fork’s Recovery Is a Mixed Bag

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ROLLING FORK, Miss.–One year after the devastating EF-4 tornado, recovery in Rolling fork is a mixed bag. While many private businesses are being rebuilt or renovated, city buildings lag far behind.

On a drive around the most devastated residential areas you’ll see that  just a few new homes are under construction.
“A lot of people moved. A lot of people just felt like they had to move. They didn’t have a home anymore,” said Meg Cooper, executive director of Mississippi’s Lower Delta Partnership, the county’s economic development entity. “They didn’t want to go through the rebuilding process and all that entails and I don’t blame them at all.”
There’s still no city hall, no fire station, no police department and no clear plan to rebuild them.
Most city business is being conducted in a compound of portable office buildings setup on the courthouse grounds.
But, private business owners seem motivated to get back to some normalcy.
“You saw businesses that have already rebuilt and opened up, businesses are close to open up. Businesses are coming back,” said Cooper.
One of those businesses in Chuck’s Dairy Bar, where people hid in a freezer for protection as the tornado disintegrated the building around them. For now, Chuck’s is still operating in a trailer, more as a food truck. But, a peek inside the new building shows that a year later they are not too far from once again being a gathering place for people from around Sharkey County.
“We’ve got our Blues Trail Marker back. We’ve got some tourist information out there,” said Cooper.
Part of Rolling Fork’s economy is from tourism. The Muddy Waters Blues Trail Marker was blown away and many of the wooden sculptures carved each year during the Great Delta Bear Affair, commemorating the hunt by Pres. Teddy Roosevelt when the Teddy Bear was born, were damaged or blown away. Thanks to the effort of the Mississippi Humanities Council and the efforts of the sculptor, Dayton Scoggins, those have been replaced and repaired.
While many landmarks are gone, the new ones and the replacement of the familiar are making way for hope.

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