Rolling Fork police chief working to rebuild after losing everything

Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 11:52 PM CDT
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ROLLING FORK, Miss. (WLBT) - Imagine losing your home, your place of employment, and some close friends all in one night. That is what happened to the Rolling Fork police chief after a devastating twister last month.

He rode out the storm and is now challenged with doing his job while trying to recover. There is not much left at the Rolling Fork Police Department. The windows have been blown out, and the building is also a total loss. The police chief also told me he has lost a lot.

In fact, he says it is like he is living a nightmare. Shattered glass, trash, and other debris cover the floor inside the Rolling Fork Police Department.

“As you can see, it sustained tremendous damage,” Police Chief Michael Miles said.

Chief Miles and his team have been struggling to clean up since it took a direct hit when a late-night twister that was as wide as three football fields touched down in the small town on March 24th.

Outside, the only patrol cars the department owned now sit out of service due to the damage they sustained. For the chief, he is not only dealing with the pain of losing all he had at work but his pain is amplified by the loss at home.

“The house was breaking apart,” said Chief Miles. “Only thing I could see was the sky, and it was raining.”

The house was obliterated along with every other one on his block. The chief drove me to his home, so I could see the devastation for myself.

“This is the bathroom where my wife, granddaughter, and I escaped the storm,” the chief said.

He admits he is surprised he’s alive to tell the story.

“I really believe if we wouldn’t have been in the bathroom, it would have been over for us,” said Chief Miles.

For the chief, in just a matter of minutes, the tornado derailed the life he knew and everything he has worked so hard for.

But despite that, Miles says his only focus was to aid and comfort the close-knit community that has was that was also stranded and left in shambles.

“I put on my uniform and what I had and began searching the area,” the chief said.

Every day the job gets tougher and tougher.

“With the fatalities and with everybody knowing everybody,” Chief Miles said. “I lost friends. In fact, I lost one of my good friends. We graduated together, and we were captains of the basketball team in high school. She lived in a mobile home, and she passed, and that really affected me.”

With so much loss and devastation,

The chief is still finding the strength to put on the badge and become that bright light to many who feel hopeless and helpless.

We have good people in this town, we are all like a family, and we look out for each other,” Chief Miles said.

In the midst of the rubble is resilience. The chief says that resilience will give him, his family, the department, and the town the hope they need on this long road to recovery.

“This is not going to keep us down,” said the chief. “We are down now, but we will be back.”

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