Volunteers helping the Pine Belt clean up

Volunteers helping the Pine Belt clean up

HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - Countless volunteers are now helping with the enormous clean-up in the Pine Belt following the deadly tornado over the weekend. City of Hattiesburg crews spent the day hauling debris and replacing street signs in the storm-struck neighborhoods.

A small army of energetic students from Benedict Day School in Sumrall, Mississippi, spent the day on clean-up duty in Hattiesburg.

"I see a lot of families that are just in a state of shock. They don't know what to really do. They just need help," said student Jaden Cunningham.

"It's really sad to see all these people's homes destroyed and demolished like this," added her classmate, Davis Lynn.

For many of these students, it's all about paying it forward.

"We remember the tornado that struck our community about four years ago. And we just, we couldn't do anything then, so we do it now," said Morgan Sudduth.

Homeowner Richard Roberts is certainly grateful for all the help. He said surviving the tornado, which did so much destruction to this neighborhood, is something he hopes to never experience again.

"The doors blew open and the windows blew open. My sister in law and her daughter were in the bed, in different rooms, but both of them got blown out of the bed," said Roberts.

Among the many coast churches and relief groups sending teams of volunteers to Hattiesburg: St. John's Episcopal of Pascagoula. George Howell is among the church team members. He just turned 90 years old, and has seen his share of storms.

"We've been through five hurricanes on the coast. It looks just like the damage from a bad hurricane. And this is what's needed to be done. Everybody pitch in and clean up," said Howell.

Count Carrie Jenkins among the storm survivors. She remembers hearing the sirens, just before the winds began ripping apart her Cedar Street home.

"Something just pulled me down between the bed. And I said, 'Oh, if I get down here I can't get up.' But something lifted me up. And I said, 'Thank you Lord, thank you Jehovah," said Jenkins.

So many are thankful, for their very lives; even as they sort through the destruction and wonder about their future.

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