Community helps survivors after tornado slams Mississippi

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 28, 2017

To assist Hattiesburg and Petal residents whose homes were damaged by last weekend’s tornado, many organizations from the Picayune and Poplarville communities have made trips to volunteer their time and transport donations.
An estimated 1,200 Mississippi homes suffered damage, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Glen Moore, emergency management director in Hattiesburg, said he is calling for all the help he can get.
“There are still a lot of things that need to be done. We can never have too many volunteers,” he said.
From clearing debris from roads and properties with chain saws to building roofs on damaged homes, there are plenty of things that need to be done to get these families back to their regular routines, Moore said.
When Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Danny Manley heard about the disaster on Saturday, he immediately rounded up a team of 16 firefighters from around the county to make the trip to Hattiesburg to provide assistance.
“We went through search and rescue mission assignments in the area as well as helped clear debris with chain saws to open up roads,” Manley said. “I check in with [Moore] every day to see if they need any help or what we can do to make life easier for everyone over there.”
Individuals and employees at Pearl River Community College have also started contributing to tornado relief efforts.
The Wellness Center at the Poplarville campus is collecting relief supplies and donations to be delivered to victims in Hattiesburg and Petal areas, Janet Braswell, PRCC public relations assistant, said.
On Monday, 10 employees and 10 students volunteered to clean up debris in Hattiesburg and transport the donations collected at the school. To raise funds for tornado relief, individual soccer players at PRCC are holding a soccer tournament in Hattiesburg in conjunction with the Hattiesburg World Cup Organization.
Also, the Baptist Student Union at PRCC has so far collected $600 in cash and gift cards to spread among as many tornado victims as possible, Braswell said.
Because William Carey University’s basketball gym was severely damaged, PRCC athletics opened its gym to let the team finish out the season without missing games. WCU will play two games, on Feb. 9 and 25, in the Wildcats’ gym.
“We were very lucky to not have any severe damage occur at our Forrest County campuses,” Braswell said.
For those who wish to volunteer their time to help tornado victims in the Hattiesburg area, call the Volunteer Response Center at East Jerusalem Baptist Church to sign up at 601-606-3523. The church is located at 410 S. Tipton Street in Hattiesburg.
Any one interested in volunteering in the Petal area must call the Volunteer Response Center at the Petal Civic Center at 601-606-7465. The center is located at 712 Main Street in Petal.
“Calling ahead of time and getting signed up will help us out tremendously,” Monica Ritchie, volunteer coordinator at the Hattiesburg Volunteer Response Center, said. “It will help us multiply and strengthen the efforts so we don’t have people all over the place.”
After talking with Moore, Manley said the response centers will assign volunteers to certain projects and collect work orders from tornado victims.
Tornado victims that need help can call the Volunteer Response Centers to file for a work order.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox