Southern Baptist volunteers continue to respond in multiple locations in Mississippi after a series of massive tornadoes that moved through the state on March 24. The number of fatalities statewide is estimated at 26.
Among those hardest hit were Rolling Fork and Silver City. Significant damage was also reported in the Amory area of Monroe County and to a lesser extent in several other locations across the state, the Baptist Record reported.
Hubert Yates, disaster relief director at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, estimated 90% of Rolling Fork has been affected.
“Damage is catastrophic to most of the central business area, commercial development along U.S. Highway 61, and most of the immediate residential areas,” he said. “Residential areas on the far west of town and far south of town are the only areas that are without major to significant damage.”
MBDR and Arkansas Baptist Disaster Relief were deploying to Rolling Fork with volunteers and expected to be up and running Tuesday (March 28), Yates said.
“This site will be a bit more difficult due to lack of power and water to get operational but should be working by Tuesday,” Yates said, estimating that chainsaw/cleanup operations are likely be active for six to eight weeks.
In Silver City, a community of approximately 50 houses, every home is affected with approximately 40 units suffering significant damage or total destruction, Yates said. Local volunteers were assisting in that area with MBDR continuing to monitor and assess damage, he added.
“Large areas of west Amory, downtown Amory, north Amory, and south Smithville experienced major to catastrophic damage,” he noted. “MBDR completed initial assessment this morning on Monday with a decision to deploy to support chainsaw and cleanup operations.”
Nine miles northeast of Amory on MS Highway 25, the city of Smithville sustained considerable damage. In 2011, an EF-5 tornado struck Smithville and resulted in a number of fatalities. MBDR will initially deploy volunteer teams, he said, with an estimated five to six week deployment in that area.
An initial survey of the Winona area in Montgomery County indicated several homes damaged and a large electrical substation out of service, resulting in widespread power outages through Monday morning (March 27).
Ways to pray
Yates listed prayer requests for immediate needs:
— Pray for each community affected, the churches and their staffs, the volunteers as they respond, and their leadership as they plan and lead.
— Pray for financial donations to allow for purchase of items in bulk quantities which will ease transportation, handling, and storage needs.
Ways to help
For more information on how you can help, click here. Or, check with your church, association or state Baptist convention to find out how they are contributing to ongoing relief efforts in your state and beyond. To contact your state convention about how to assist with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts, click here. Or, for more information about Send Relief, click here.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by William Perkins and originally published by the Baptist Record.