GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - While faced with massive destruction and dozens of people still missing, Missouri tornado victims are starting on the long road to recovery. It's a walk people around the country including here in South Mississippi say Joplin won't have to take alone.
At a memorial service for tornado victims. President Barack Obama said Joplin residents are showing the world how to come together. Then he pledged the nation will be with them every step of the way.
Meanwhile, Orange Grove Church of Christ in Gulfport is collecting donations for Joplin which happens to be the hometown of one of the members. Friends and family in Joplin Missouri sent Heather Brierton these photos of her hometown in ruins after an EF-5 tornado.
"I saw the hospital that I used to work at in complete devastation," said Brierton. "The city that I once knew. I was raised 12 miles from there. Worked at that hospital for five years before moving here, Just thought immediately of the past co-workers and my friends and my family."
When Brierton decided to start a collection drive for Joplin, she said her church jumped at the chance to help. Orange Grove Church of Christ has sent volunteers, money, and supplies to Nashville flood victims and Mississippi and Alabama tornado victims. The pastor said the congregation is always mindful of the help received after Hurricane Katrina.
Rev. Les Ferguson, Jr. said, "You can't receive all that without incurring, I don't want to say obligation. But a really deep felt need to be one who not only receives help, but gives help in return. It's a part of being a Christian."
Brierton said folks in Joplin tell her they are grateful for all the donations. She's grateful her adopted town is a place that cares about strangers hundreds of miles away.
"All our family is up that way so this church family has become our family since we've been here," said Brierton. "I sent an email and made a phone call and everybody was very pleased to say 'yes, we'll chip in however we can help.' "
If you want to help Joplin, you can take your donations to Orange Grove Church of Christ at 15121 O'Neal Road from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Campground Baptist Church in Gulfport and Safe Harbor United Methodist Church in Moss Point are also drop off points.