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Local restaurant owner discusses tornado recovery efforts in Rolling Fork

Tracy Harden (middle) with fellow Rolling Fork residents after an EF-4 tornado tore through the town on March 24 (Photo from Good Morning America/Facebook)

Following the impact of the March 24 tornadoes that devastated part of Mississippi, Rolling Fork captured the attention of a national audience Thursday when Good Morning America visited the Delta town, with one restaurant owner embodying the town’s valiant spirit.

Tracy Harden, the owner of Chucks Dairy Bar — widely considered a Rolling Fork staple — has taken on a leadership role amid the devastation of a town she is unable to recognize anymore.

As the tornado worked its way toward the city, Harden, who was doing payroll inside the restaurant, instinctively rushed employees as well as herself and her husband into the standing cooler for safety. Upon exiting the cooler, it was discovered that Chucks no longer had a roof.

Harden, devastated that she had no ability to do what she loves most — provide food for people in her community — received a call the following day. A man offered the respected restauranteur his food trailer free of charge, which prompted Harden to open a mobile version of Chucks Dairy Bar right then and there.

“We’ve been able to cook for almost four weeks now with no cost to us, just some wonderful people making donations and it’s been wonderful. It’s been awesome,” Harden said on Good Things with Rebecca Turner.

Now that much of the debris has been cleaned up, the next step for Rolling Fork, according to Harden, is to begin rebuilding so that families and their children can resume life in the town they call home.

“We want our kids back in our school system. We want our people back working in our town. We need housing. When we get those houses we need to fill those houses so people can get back home,” Harden said. “Honestly, we need a little bit of everything right now, or a lot of everything, and people are really coming through for us.”

During GMA’s broadcast, Mississippi native Robin Roberts, one of the show’s hosts, presented Harden with $10,000 in gift cards to disperse to those who have been traveling to obtain supplies for victims. Big Lots, the furniture and home decor retailer, also provided a $20,000 check for storm recovery efforts.

Watch the full interview with Harden below.

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