Volunteer groups say more help is needed for tornado victims to recover

It’s been more than a month since the EF-4 tornado tore through the area, leveling buildings, scattering debris and memories for miles.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 9:06 PM CDT
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ROLLING FORK, Miss. (WLOX) - Residents in Rolling Fork and Silver City are still picking up the pieces after that devastating tornado in March.

One Coast relief group just returned from the storm-ravaged area. Volunteers said the people there need as much help as they can get.

Last week, New Life Disaster Relief loaded trailers full of supplies and made the 200-mile trek north to Silver City. Before that, volunteers assisted victims in Rolling Fork. What those volunteers witnessed when they got there rocked their world - the heartbreaking wrath of Mother Nature.

“The devastation was immense,” Ken Wetzel with New Life Disaster Relief group said. “Their damage in Rolling Fork was total annihilation, whereas in Silver City, there were a lot of homes that had very significant damage but still had walls standing.”

It’s been more than a month since the EF-4 tornado tore through the area, leveling buildings, scattering debris and memories for miles, and leaving the majority of residents without a home.

Church pastors like Earth Robinson Jr. of Silver City’s Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church lost more than a roof and walls. He lost two members of his congregation. One man was killed near the church. Another was killed trying to save his wife after debris slammed through their home.

“We buried him about two Saturdays ago and the other young man the Saturday before,” Robinson said.

While most of the debris is being cleared from the ground, there’s still major work to be done.

“What I can see them needing most of all is for their homes to be repaired,” Pastor Robinson said. “Some of them have roof damage, window damage, some have major damage. That’s the greatest need right now.”

“So few people up there had insurance so that really makes the fundraising slow and painstaking,” Wetzel said. “We’re hoping to gather work teams to go up and assist people who are reasonably close to get back into their homes. The homes that suffered lesser damage.”

Volunteer groups here on the Coast are doing what they can to help by working in distribution centers sorting food and working to rebuild homes.

“We all have an opportunity to pay it forward especially with hurricane season coming up,” Wetzel said. “Our hearts are so full of gratitude for all the help we received down here and we have an opportunity to pay that back to our friends and neighbors up there in Central Mississippi.”

Good Morning Mississippi anchors Jaimee Dorris and Chet Landry will talk with the mayor of Rolling Fork Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. Good Morning America will shine a spotlight on what it calls Mississippi Strong. Robin Roberts will be in the tornado-ravaged region. She’ll show views of how far Mississippi has come in one month, and how far it still has to go to rebuild what the tornados demolished

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