WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today expressed optimism about the ability of Mississippians to recover from the multiple tornadoes that tore through the state Tuesday, causing tragic loss of life and serious damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure.

“Our thoughts are with the all those in Mississippi affected by the tornadoes and severe weather, particularly those families who have lost loved ones. We also appreciate the brave first responders and the members of the National Guard who are there to assist them,” Cochran said.

“The recovery process will begin immediately and in earnest. We Mississippians have experienced more than our fair share of natural disasters, and each time we have shown resilience and compassion in helping each other recover and rebuild. I will do anything I can to assist in the recovery process,” he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cochran brought up the tornado disaster during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled weeks ago to examine advances resulting from federal investment in scientific endeavors. At today’s Senate hearing, he asked witnesses at the hearing to review any federal research that would “help us better predict, protect against or recover” from natural disasters.

John P. Holdren, Ph.D., direct of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, focused advances by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Weather Service (NWS) to improve early emergency warning systems, including advanced instrumentation and enhanced weather satellites. Holdren highlighted the NWS ability to issue long-range server weather outlook notices—notices that began predicting severe storm threats for the Southeast on April 22.

“The federal government really has been making very substantial investments in improving weather forecasting to give more notice of events like the tornadoes that struck a substantial part of our country in the past few days,” Holden said.

“If you look at the most recent and tragic events, they would have been much more tragic had we not had up to six days warning that was produced by the U.S. Weather Service,” Holden said. “That warning was put to very good use. Of course, even one death is too many. We’ve had dozens of deaths, but the death rate would have been far, far higher if the governors, the state authorities and the local authorities had not had the amount of warning they had.”