South MS man heads Salvation Army's Tuscaloosa recovery

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A South Mississippi man is leading the Salvation Army's effort to bring relief and hope to Tuscaloosa's tornado victims. Lieutenant Jerry Williams, who heads the Jackson County chapter, has been named incident commander for Tuscaloosa. He's in Alabama assessing the situation.

Meanwhile, volunteers and staff in South Mississippi are waiting and ready to respond. On Thursday morning, Salvation Army volunteers were stocking two canteens in Biloxi with everything needed to fix meals for thousands of tornado victims.

"We make sure that there's water. There's plenty of coffee supplies, food supplies, pots, pans, utensils," said Lt. Benjamin Deuel. "We just await the call, and once we get the call, we head out."

Before volunteers can head out they need to get the word from Lieutenant Jerry Williams who is Tuscaloosa's incident commander.

Public Relations Officer Meghan Calhoun said, "He's going to have to assess the entire disaster and figure out what resources he needs from the Salvation Army. Also, work with all the other agencies that are there as well to develop how many volunteers do we need, how many canteens do we need to arrive to help feed these people, what other assistance is needed immediately and also long term."

Previous disasters have taught volunteers that offering a warm smile is as important as preparing someone a hot meal.

Lt. Deuel said, "Not only give them something physical like a meal to fill their stomachs but joy to fill their spirit. Because there are times when they don't have anything. They're in deep depression. They don't know what's going to happen next. But for me, it's to make them feel as I'm their friend. "

Salvation Army officials say people who want to help tornado victims can do so by giving their money and their time. To make a financial donations and to sign up to volunteer call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) or click HERE.

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