U.S. territories still recovering from hundreds of tornadoes braced for more extreme weather in the days to come. According to AccuWeather, there were nearly a dozen tornadoes in the Midwest, April 4, into the 5th, which left at least six dead. Twenty-two tornadoes hit Indiana alone on March 31 and April 1, according to the National Weather Service. Five people died and 11 were injured.
In Bollinger County, Missouri, it looked as if “an angry giant stomped through overnight, crushing homes and twisting trees,” after a tornado touched down, reported The Weather Channel on April 4. That same day, several fresh tornadoes were reported in Iowa and Illinois. In Colona, Ill., about 80 miles southeast of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a tornado ripped the roof from a gas station and uprooted trees, according to the Weather Service.
As of April 4, more severe weather was forecasted for portions of far western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, northeast New Mexico and far southeastern Colorado, as well as parts of Arkansas, Missouri, into southeastern Iowa and west central Illinois, according to the National Weather Service.
It indicated that 81 tornadoes struck 14 states on March 31 and April 1, and more would touch down across the Midwest and Southern states. More specifically, another 50 million people across 19 states—in some of the same areas struck by tornadoes over that weekend—would be swept again with storms of heavy snow, strong winds and blizzard conditions according to the National Weather Service.
“Obviously, we’re looking at, as the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, America being curtailed from all sides. We understand that those who are looking and looking at scripture see it as the Biblical response in what has been foretold as to what was to come,” stated A’ishah Muhammad, Nation of Islam Student National Auditing Coordinator and a member of the Nation of Islam Executive Shura Council.
What is being witnessed is very humbling, because as America gears up for war and weapons of destruction and interference in other parts of the world, Allah (God) and His Exalted and Living Christ and Mahdi (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) are showing out in America, continued A’ishah Muhammad. She expressed gratitude to the Messiah, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, for his guidance and instructions to prepare for this crucial hour.
“In Mecca, now, the floods have hit the Ka’aba; the floods have hit the roads going into Mecca. The floods have pushed trucks and cars up on themselves as the water is raging. It’s like the water is angry, because the floods are coming in succession, one right after another, storm after storm. And it’s not America alone, Asia is getting hit; Japan, India, Pakistan” stated Minister Farrakhan, during his message delivered on “The Ummah Reflects” podcast. It was livestreamed via the Podbean app on Thursday, March 23, 2023, which marked the first day of the Holy Month of Ramadan observance for Muslims in the United States.
Minister Farrakhan continued, “Everywhere on the Earth where you think you were safe yesterday, there is no safety today.Allah is rocking the earth under our foot; where we used to put it down and feel the firmness of the earth, now earthquakes are shaking the Earth!”
‘All of us have to prepare’
A’ishah Muhammad noted that it doesn’t matter where one lives today. Tornadoes are not just occurring in predominantly White communities, but Black communities have been struck as well. And people are seeing softball-sized hail, she stated.
“All of us have to prepare … but the first thing we have to do is get right with Allah (God). That’s it. We want His Divine protection. We want His guidance. We want His arms around us and our loved ones. We have to pull it in and live by the law that we say we believe in,” A’ishah Muhammad added.
The Nation of Islam plans to hold a disaster preparedness seminar soon and cover various aspects to help ensure people aren’t ill-prepared for what is about to come, she continued. Part of the focus will be situational awareness, in consideration of where people would and should go if disaster struck and their homes, community centers and points of reference were all wiped out, she said.
“How do you know what to do? What does that do to the mind?” she questioned. “So even though we can tell us to prepare our homes, have the right supplies, how to make a fortress out of our homes, teach our families how to be quiet, if you do all of that and your home is underwater, flattened, then what do you do?”
Plan for the inevitable, she encouraged, such as making arrangements for safe lodging with other friends and families. In the meantime, people are encouraged to store food and medical supplies, and not waste time or spend it frivolously on things that won’t help them in the time when they need it the most, cautioned A’ishah Muhammad.
Shameka Muhammad of Greenville, Mississippi, said no one was prepared for the storm that struck Rolling Fork, and likewise for Little Rock, Arkansas. They did not have food or water, nor did they receive any warning, thus had no time to react, she told The Final Call.
Official reports indicated that some tornado warning devices and sirens did go off. But this was not the case, said Shameka Muhammad and her husband, Nation of Islam Student Minister Basil Muhammad.
“Some of these residents were displaced. Their homes were demolished, crushed, destroyed,” he stated. Some families in Rolling Fork are now staying 11 to 17 in one household, and some, who had holes in their roofs and all of their windows shattered, said they didn’t receive any type of warning, and some communities only have systems that warn once tornadoes touch the ground, he stated.
Shameka Muhammad described seeing their cousins sitting outside of their damaged homes looking stunned and shocked by what happened and because they had nowhere to go. “Seeing that was like, ‘Oh, Allah! What can we do? What are we supposed to do at that moment of time when you see something like that?’” she stated.
“When you see death and destruction of that magnitude, and it’s utter destruction in some of these neighborhoods. I mean even the poles that hold the lights and telephone wires, they’re gone! The rooftops, and on some houses the bricks were peeled away from the wooden structure,” added Basil Muhammad. Also, some houses were completely pancaked by the trees tossed from other communities, he said.
“It’s unprecedented! The barks and branches just ripped off of trees. Whole trees lifted out of the ground and thrown across like a spear, a javelin, so when you see that amount of death and destruction and we have the Divine Warning coming from God’s Representative in our midst, the Qur’an tells us that the Believers do not grieve,” he stated, referring to the Islamic book of scripture.
Accountability on all levels
Basil and Shemeka Muhammad recalled seeing a discount dollar store in which six or seven people were crushed in twisted metal. Standing on the barren concrete slab, they saw firsthand the results of how the force of the wind took a steel girdle and twisted it as straw or a wrung-out dish towel.
Unfortunately, according to Basil Muhammad, the area is flooded with non-profit organizations, that appear to be taking advantage of the suffering community. He said he has personally witnessed many of the groups counting heads to log accountability of their services, instead of providing help to residents.
“When they pull up, for instance, at some of our very own family members’ homes, there was one White, young teenager on the back of a truck offering hot plates. There was a younger White girl inside of the same pickup counting the number of people in the yard and recording that. That’s what I witnessed myself,” stated Basil Muhammad.
He said he doesn’t have a problem with accountability, but the concern is using the tragedy as a mechanism to steer funds for their own efforts, he explained. This would be much in alignment with Mississippi’s historical record of Blacks being disenfranchised from everything from financial resources to the ability to get decent food, he said.
He said he and his wife witnessed some of the aid groups helping, but they witnessed more than three-quarters of the people that were there (Rolling Fork) riding around in all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and pulling trailers. “I don’t know if they’re opportunists! I don’t know if it looks like everybody is helped. But that’s not what we saw. Everyone was not helped,” said Basil Muhammad.
“We watched people digging out their underwear, digging out clothes to put on their back. We watched it happen, them digging it out of the rubble and they were by themselves! And these big diesel trucks and big four-wheel drive vehicles that were pulling these ATVs and had 10 and 15 people on there, they weren’t getting out, trying to help in those areas. They were just driving through, looking around, but I watched them take down head counts,” continued Basil Muhammad.
According to police officials and others they’ve spoken with, the need is manpower, he stated. Water, food and shelter are taken care of but they need help cleaning up and getting back to what they had before, he said. “Our people need their people on the ground with them. People willing to get dirty, get down, and do the back-breaking labor of basically clearing the land again,” he said.
He also recommended that better preparedness is required on the front end, such as revamping emergency response systems, especially tornado warning systems. Also, more congruency is needed on a city and county level with national weather stations that can monitor and locate where this type of atmospheric disturbance is starting to brew, he explained.
It is important to understand the disaster declaration process because when the tornadoes recently hit the South, disasters were declared almost immediately, according to Charles Sharp, chair/CEO of the Black Emergency Managers Association International (BEMA International). “But all disasters are local,” he stated.
The question is are the city, county and state emergency management offices taking care of all of their constituents and all communities, he questioned. Mr. Sharp also rhetorically asked why disasters are declared so swiftly. He then answered that the aim is to get Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding. But who’s getting restitution during that process, he questioned?
Mr. Sharp, a retired U.S. Air Force Emergency Manager, cautioned to not rely solely on FEMA but to press local representation into action. “Why did the water issue from the emergency management standpoint occur in Jackson, Mississippi, for so long and no one knew about it?” argued Mr. Sharp.
“FEMA comes in and provides assistance that the states cannot take care of. If you’re planning correctly for the threats and risks in your community, you know a tornado comes through every year. Why aren’t you planning for it? You know who lives there. Why aren’t you doing more construction so these buildings survive any level type of tornado?”