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Volunteers Help Residents Hit by Tornadoes

By Daniel Cherry | Published 12 Feb 2013 09:37pm | comments
Damage assessment crews are on their way to Hattiesburg today to determine whether Mississippi is eligible for federal disaster assistance after Sunday's severe weather. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, even if aid isn't available, volunteers have been on the ground taking care of their neighbors in need.
 
During a break in the rain, Marshall Jones and a small crew of volunteers are tarping up a roof in Hattiesburg.
 
"Trying to fix this leak here. It's mostly already tarped up, but they've still got some leaking in the dining room and the living room."
 
Jones and the others are all from an area church. They're just one small group, but several hundred volunteers have flooded the affected areas, cutting trees out of yards and clearing out debris. Jones says he's encouraged to see the outpour of support.
 
"Everyone in the community, despite our differences coming together to help one another, and that makes it all worth it. I think this is the best thing I can be doing with my time right now."
 
For residents like Andrew Dawkins, the help has been invaluable. He says he'd have never been able to cover his roof without the volunteers. And he's glad to see groups like the Salvation Army and Red Cross coming around to comfort those hit by the storm.
 
"We've been out of power since it happened so things are kind of rough right now, but they're giving people a handout and helping them because they know we're out of power. (They're bringing) us dinner and water and stuff like that."
 
Down the street in a parking lot, Pauline Barney and other members of a church are handing out food, water, and cleaning supplies to residents and all those who came out to lend a hand.
 
"Always want to do more to help because a lot of people are going to be homeless. A lot of people don't own their own homes and they're renters, and once that's knocked down and torn up, they've got to find a place to go."
 
An updated report from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says at least 800 homes were destroyed or suffered major damage from Sunday's severe weather. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.

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