HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - Countless volunteers and faith-based groups are busy helping Hattiesburg recover from the deadly weekend tornado. Many residents in the areas hardest-hit say they're relying on faith and family to help them move forward with their lives.
Even longtime residents say it's hard to recognize Ida Avenue. Many of the families along this road are related and have lived here for generations. And that's why it's so sad for many to come to grips with this grim reality.
"I cried so hard, I cried. But now I realize that after all the crying and stuff, we're still alive. And that's the best thing. We still have our lives," said Tracy Smith-Leggett.
Diondre Smith found himself trapped amid the debris of a fallen house.
"I had to be rescued. The fire department rescued me out. I was trapped up under the roof of that house in the bedroom," he recalled.
Despite the devastation, he remains confident this close-knit neighborhood will rebound.
"Yes, it's very much a mess. But we're doing the best we can. We're all family out here," said Smith.
Regina Broach calls the tornado "two minutes of fright." She remembers hearing the sirens.
"That's when she told us to get up and get in a closet. And all we heard, sounded like two locomotives coming down this path," Broach remembered.
Broach recently moved here from Pass Christian. She's used to dealing with hurricanes, not tornadoes.
"This is nothing I want to experience again. I'm going to tell you. I don't think I could take a tornado."
As quickly as the winds subsided, volunteers and disaster relief groups descended on these hard-hit neighborhoods.
Joel Graber is with Christian Aid Ministries.
"We just like to come around and help people out. But our main mission is to bring the love of Christ to those who are around here in this world."
Long Beach retiree Bruce Bricker is among the volunteers lending a hand.
"Shades of Katrina, I suppose. We're just helping clean up the yard, it's kind of a mess," he said.
Most of the residents we spoke with on Ida Avenue say they will somehow rebuild. This is home to them and the storm won't change that.