ROLLING FORK, Miss. (WJTV) – The impact of Friday night’s tornadoes will permanently affect the landscape of Mississippi, particularly the town of Rolling Fork.

I’ve done lots of stories in Rolling Fork. What I remember is that the town is full of friendly people. It’s a town with a great sense of humor. From Lee Washington’s creations he makes out of worn-out cotton picker spindles to the Great Delta Bear Affair celebrating Teddy Roosevelt and the teddy bear.

If you’re from Mississippi, the town’s name, Rolling Fork, isn’t particularly unusual. It’s what we’ve always called the place. The name is sounds odd to people who’ve never heard it before. The name comes because Deer Creek runs through Rolling Fork. In the middle of town, Rolling Fork Creek “forks” off of Deer Creek. It must have had some current in it at some point in time. It was named for its “rolling” swift waters. 

It amazed me how few things in Rolling Fork I never took pictures of for the number of times I’ve been there. Of course, I never knew this would happen. There’s the Great Delta Bear Affair. They always create a new carving of a bear or Teddy Roosevelt or a combination of the two during the all-day festival every fall. That’s where I first saw Lee Washington’s cotton picker art creations. He has a gallery and shop in Rolling Fork now. The gallery’s porch was torn off by the tornado. The metal shop out back was flattened.

A lot of people remember the big house on the Indian Mound at Rolling Fork. The house survived. Helen Johnstone, the Bride of Annandale was supposed to have married Henry Vick, but he was killed in a duel and was buried at the Chapel of the Cross in Madison County. Helen marred the pastor of the church. They moved to Rolling Fork in the mid 1800s. They started a church and called it Chapel of the Cross, also. Its hundred-year-old brick sanctuary stood on Rolling Fork Creek. It was destroyed by the tornado.

Back to Rolling Fork Creek, there’s a foot bridge across the creek with a sign as you get onto the bridge. It says, “Love can bridge any gap.” That’s just what’s happening in Rolling Fork, Silver City, Black Hawk, Winona, Amory, Smithville and lots of other places where the tornado hit, right now. People who’d never heard of Roll Fork are coming here to help people they didn’t know get back on their feet again.