The storm still rages for the victims of the horrible tornadoes this week in Miss. 14 folks are confirmed dead. Thankfully none were killed in our town. The destruction is typical tornado ~ it bounced & jumped, and trailed on the ground. A fellow churchmember lost 4 or 5 large trees and her wooden privacy fence ~ 3 houses over from hers, the house was totally demolished and is just a pile of rubble.
In the neighboring trailer park community, 110 trailers were damaged, an additional 37 were either totally destroyed, or damaged so much they are permanently un liveable. For all these men, women, and children ~ the storm still rages.
The storms hit on Monday. FEMA hasn't shown up yet to start processing their claims and emergency housing. Red Cross didn't make an appearance until late Thursday or Friday. But the local churches are in the neighborhoods helping ~ with food, shelter, gift cards for basics, non perishable foods, clothing, etc. We all worked yesterday, helping any way we could. Greg and Will were part of a team from our church cutting up trees, removing debris, etc. They worked at 2 church members homes and then volunteered their services at neighboring homes that needed help. Amy and I worked with a group of our church ladies at the trailer park ~ sorting donations (mostly clothing) and helping folks who came to get items for their families.
In this area, there was actually so many clothes donated ~ that additional donations are being sent to Salvation Army or Goodwill. Its a blessing to have so many clothes for these 147 families that you run out of room. Many local stores have also donated brand new, still on hangers, still have tags, bags of clothing for children. And packages of undies & socks for all ages. A local hotel donated bath towels, hand towels, and wash cloths plus many boxes of their hotel toiletries for each person. And honestly, things I had not thought of donating before but make perfect sense....cleaners, feminine products, diapers, can openers, baby bottles, wipes, purses, toys, small appliances, gift cards to local restaurants, offers of paying dr. bills, rides to the dr. or store, etc. When you think about everything being suddenly gone ~ its sobering & humbling.
A couple of things stuck out in my mind from our time yesterday ~ first a woman came in with her 2 teenage daughters, their home was completely gone & they didn't find much in the rubble. She was going through the trailer with some volunteers collecting items for the family ~~~~ she was very frugal ~ she took one comb (they could share), she only wanted a couple of ponytail elastics (not packages, single elastics), one tube of toothpaste, etc. The volunteers were trying to help her understand these items were for each person in the family. She didn't speak English very well but it was clear, she didn't want to take what she was perceiving as too much. She did leave with a bag full of necessities for the family.
Another picture was a little girl ~ 4 or 5 years old. She found a plush, stuffed, tye dyed dolphin in the boxes of toys and asked me if she could have it. When I told her yes, she walked off with it stuck under her arm, hugging it with all her might and a huge smile on her face! She didn't ask for anything else ~ she just wanted a lovey to hug.
We've heard lots of stories of the trauma people are continually experiencing that is wrecking havoc on their physical and mental health. Please continue to pray for those affected.