• About
  • Careers
News Community members aid in tornado recovery

Community members aid in tornado recovery

-

Nearly three weeks after an EF-3 tornado struck Columbia, Mississippi, cleanup and recovery from the storm continues. Debris from houses and buildings scattered the city Tuesday, Dec. 23, as citizens were forced to accept the fact that a tornado had torn through their town with wind speeds reaching 165 mph.

A lengthy and strenuous cleanup effort was carried out on Christmas Eve in the small town of Columbia. Luckyday Citizenship Scholar Shanice Floore volunteered for the Mississippi Tornado Relief Fundraiser sponsored by The Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation and WDAM as an effort to help the recovery of the severe weather that hit the the region.

The telethon aimed at raising money for the two funds that The Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation collected for disasters in the area called the Columbia Strong Fund and the Pinebelt Community Disaster Fund.
After she answered phone calls and listened to stories from callers willing to ease the devastation of the tornado, Floore spoke of her experience volunteering for the benefit of Marion County and surrounding areas.
“One man called in and made a $100 donation in honor of one of his friends who was one of the five people that passed in the storm,” said Floore, a senior hotel, restaurant and tourism management major and Luckyday president. “He just wanted to give back and do all that he could in honor of his friend. Another lady called in and told us that she only gets $600 a month and she donated $20 of her only income to give back to the people of Columbia.” The telethon successfully raised over $218,000.

“The first group that I volunteered with was Columbia High School and these students have witnessed a lot and had a lot of stories to share. In Columbia, Mississippi, there are some amazing stories about faith and survival emerging on this Christmas Eve,” Floore said.

Victims still continue to salvage the remaining items of the aftermath, but are thankful to be alive. Other relief organizations exist in support of Columbia’s recovery. Columbia Strong has relief centers in town that recruit volunteers and aid in the recovery of Columbia.

“When I first heard that there was a tornado in Columbia, my mind went straight to my relatives,” said Gaqueta Alexander, a freshman entertainment industry-management major and a resident of Columbia. “I had just left Columbia 30 minutes before the tornado hit, and I was thankful that my family and I were able to leave before it hit. I remember turning the TV (on) and seeing my hometown destroyed. It was heartbreaking to know that an hour before everything was normal,” Alexander said.

Widespread tornado damage can be seen throughout the city of Columbia, Mississippi, after a tornado devastated the area Dec. 23 and caused two deaths and many injuries. Matt Bush/Courtesy Photo

Southern Miss students and graduates have volunteered in cleaning and removing debris on Columbia-Purvis Road.

“Columbia-Purvis Road contained an extensive amount of debris because there were storage units located on that road. The next day, I volunteered at a relief center that contained donated clothes for the tornado victims,” Alexander said.

Another response to the disaster was from the Mu Xi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., of USM. Families in need from Columbia were supported with the raised money from the fundraiser. First aid, Red Cross, and Columbia Strong stations were set up at Woodlawn Church and First Baptist Church in Columbia during the past few weeks.

Apart from volunteer services for the recovery process, utility crews made extensive repairs and cleaned up land of debris. “My heart empathized with the families of those who lost their lives in the storm,”
Alexander said.
Highway 13 and Highway 98 along with the south end of Columbia were affected by great amounts of debris and power outages. The heartbreaking occurrence not only involved Columbia, but also a majority of the South that Tuesday and Wednesday.

The National Weather Service reported at least six tornadoes touched the ground throughout the South, leaving five people dead and 50 others injured. Homes and businesses were destroyed, cars were flipped, trees were uprooted and power lines were downed as a result of the disaster. On Tuesday, Dec. 23, Gov. Phil Bryant issued a state emergency for Marion and Jones counties. Marion County Sheriff reported that the tornado caused three deaths: Mary Jane Sartin, 71; Amber Sumrall, 33; and Mickey Hudson, CEO of Hudson’s Inc. and supporter of The University of Southern Mississippi athletics. The tornado was spotted that afternoon in Amite, Louisiana, before it crossed over into Mississippi and moved northeast to Jones County. In Jones County, sheriffs reported killed victims Leonardo Drummond, 45; and Josey White, 40.

Although the area resembled a crumbled war zone after the tornado, the efforts to recovery have made a phenomenal improvement to the situation.

Afnan Beauti
Nan is a chemistry major, Luckyday Scholar, and Honors College student at USM. She enjoys writing, exercising, and speaking life to her peers and family.
- Advertisement -

Latest news

Jack’s Movie Shack keeps movie rentals alive

Southern Miss alumnus Daniel Greer co-owns Jack’s Movie Shack in Laurel with his wife Tiffany, and the two can often be found below the neon glow of an open sign in one of the last movie rental stores in the country.

McNair takes student outreach and support role

When Delores McNair started her journey at Southern Miss, she was the office secretary. As she took on more responsibilities and duties throughout the years, the title of her position went through several changes too.

‘Charli’ confirms that Charli XCX is that girl

Charli XCX’s third studio album “Charli” is a heightened continuation of her mixtapes “Number 1 Angel” and “Pop 2.” Featuring mixed themes of isolation, indulgence and friendship, “Charli” near-perfectly melds frenetic dance tracks with somber pop ballads.

Terrell lives dream through restaurant

Victoria “Vikki” Terrell’s life has not necessarily been an easy one. Growing up in Hattiesburg, Terrell was faced with the challenge of living up to the legacy of her father, Southern Miss football legend Clemon Terrell.

Prism Center provides training for prospective LGBTQ+ allies

Southern Miss Allies and the Prism Center of Southern Miss is providing training for students and faculty that will help them to become official allies of the LGBTQ+ community here at Southern Miss.

Must read

Jack’s Movie Shack keeps movie rentals alive

Southern Miss alumnus Daniel Greer co-owns Jack’s Movie Shack in Laurel with his wife Tiffany, and the two can often be found below the neon glow of an open sign in one of the last movie rental stores in the country.

McNair takes student outreach and support role

When Delores McNair started her journey at Southern Miss, she was the office secretary. As she took on more responsibilities and duties throughout the years, the title of her position went through several changes too.

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you