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Coast organizations aid the Heartland following deadly tornadoes

In the hardest-hit areas of the Heartland, recovery and relief were underway Tuesday on the ground and even from about 700 miles away in South Mississippi.
Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 10:28 PM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - In some of the hardest-hit areas of the Heartland, recovery and relief efforts are underway on the ground and even from about 700 miles away in South Mississippi.

As American Red Cross crews provide relief on site, volunteers in Gulfport are lending a virtual hand by coordinating logistics and providing victims with help online and over the phone.

“The advances in technology, especially in Red Cross, are phenomenal,” said John McFarland, the executive director of the Southeast Mississippi chapter. “I can sit here now and see exactly what’s going on in each of those areas: how many people are on the ground, how many homes are impacted, what they look like. And, so, what we’ve been doing since Friday night have been monitoring, in real-time, what they need.”

Not only are they coordinating logistics, but they’re also providing mental therapy for victims and aiding with communication.

“Spiritual care and mental health teams are really where we see the highest need right now because obviously with the number of deaths associated with this event and just the impact across the country really,” said disaster program manager Angie Grajeda said.

McFarland and Grajeda said personnel and supplies are on standby, ready to deploy if and when needed.

“Y’all, I can’t even imagine,” said Heather Eason from Ocean Springs as she drove through Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Eason, the founder of Comeback Coolers, traveled to the area with her team to distribute about 100 coolers throughout the community on Tuesday.

They were packed full with drinks and snacks donated by coastal residents.

“What we have seen today is just absolute and utter devastation, like something I’ve really not seen,” she told WLOX. “We kinda moved down the road, and this lady came behind our truck and said, ‘Did you guys bring this cooler?’ And we said, ‘Yeah.’ And she just started bawling. And she was like, ‘We’re just so thankful.’”

Heal the Heartland
Heal the Heartland(WBRC)

Eason said they will perform an assessment on Wednesday to see if another team is needed later in the week before flying home.

You can donate directly to the Salvation Army’s disaster relief efforts in Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and Missouri by texting HLTORNADO to 51555. Message and data rates apply.

You can also donate online by clicking here. Your entire donation will go toward the disaster relief operation you select, and there are no administrative fees.

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