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Help tornado victims in Marion and Jones County

Last Tuesday, a tornado ripped through Jones and Marion Counties killing at least five people, injuring about 50, and destroying homes and businesses.
According to weather.com, the damage sustained from a tornado near Columbia is consistent with an EF3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The damage from the Jones County tornado has been rated EF2 with maximum winds estimated at 125 mph.
The tornado damaged businesses, flipped cars and downed power lines onto U.S. 98, the website states.
It has been reported that three people were killed in Marion County and two in Jones County.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency Tuesday for the two counties, along with others parts of the state affected by severe weather, the website states.
When Picayune resident Belinda Larson heard about the devastation, she knew she wanted to help.
“I’m originally from the Westbank in New Orleans, La. and survived Hurricane Katrina,” Larson said. “I also knew Amber Owens Sumrall, who passed away during the tornado.”
Larson knew she couldn’t physically help with clean up efforts, but said the best way she could help would be to send needed supplies.
To date, she has made one trip and wishes to make one every week, if possible.
Larson said she follows the Facebook page, Columbia Mississippi Tornado Recovery, to acquire a list of needed supplies.
According to Larson, immediate needs include pet supplies, hand soap and sanitizer, baby diapers and wipes, non-perishable food items, paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags, toothbrushes, bottled water, blankets, gift cards in small increments to restaurants and stores, and luggage.
Larson is a stay-at-home mom and said she is hoping recovery efforts will be a lesson for her three young daughters.
“I try to teach my girls to give back to others,” Larson said. “Just because we have, doesn’t mean that others do.”
Anyone interested in donating items to tornado victims in Columbia may contact Larson at 601-730-2486 or send her a message via Facebook.
According to Larson, anyone wishing to volunteer their time and energy to clean up efforts must first report to Woodlawn Church in Columbia. The church is located at 1452 Old Hwy. 98 E. Contact them by phone at 601-736-5128. All volunteers must check in at the church, where they will receive badges.
Learn more about recovery efforts via Facebook at Columbia Mississippi Tornado Recovery.