Outpouring of charity follows tornado
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 1:00 AM
Counseling services, showers and barbecue are just a few of the ways people have received help following the devastation from last week's tornado in Louisville.
The Operation BBQ Relief tent and trailer set up behind the First Baptist Church in Louisville. The group along with Tyson Foods gave away 1,700 plates of food on Wednesday.
On Monday, April 28 an EF-4 tornado struck Winston County, cutting a swath of destruction through the county and into parts of the city of Louisville.
Nearly immediately after the devastation rescue and recovery efforts began and within hours help had arrived from not only across the state but from other states as well.
Two of the main focuses after a disaster is sheltering and feeding those affected, officials said.
Following the tornado all hotels in the area were filled and several shelters had been established.
The American Red Cross set up a shelter in the gym of the First Baptist Church of Louisville.
As of last Thursday at noon they had sheltered 97 people.
"People need shelter," said Hubert Yates, the pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Winston County. "The storm hurt a lot of low income families."
One thing the shelter was unable to provide was a way for survivors to clean up.
In comes a mobile shower unit from the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Unit.
"It was much needed," Yates said. "It got here Wednesday night at 5 p.m. and we had it operational by 6:15."
The shower is open twice a day.
Next to the First Baptist Church shelter are trucks for Operation BBQ Relief and Tyson Foods.
Lynn Entrekin, Operation BBQ Relief coordinator, said they arrived Wednesday from Boaz, Ala.
"We're a Kansas City based organization," she said. "We gave out 1,700 meals Wednesday and we're shooting to match that today [Thursday]."
The organization also deployed to Tupelo and even areas of Arkansas.
"When a disaster strikes we deploy to serve those in need," Entrekin said.
She noted that they not only feed those at the shelter but any person or group seeking a hot meal.
"One woman from the hospital came to pick up 15 plates and left with 50," she said.
The group stayed until Sunday but Entrekin said that enough cooked food will be left to feed everyone that comes by until Monday.
Tyson Foods was also on hand giving away chicken plates.
"We've given away several hundred plates since we got here on Wednesday," a spokesperson for the company said.
Mental needs are also being cared for.
Janice McGee, with Community Counseling Services out of Clay County, said they have seen cases of depression, stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the aftermath of the disaster.
"We're here to help anyone we can," she said.
The group set up a trailer in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church and had seen 14 people by Thursday at noon.
"It's mostly been a combination of depression, stress and PTSD," she said. "We've mostly seen adults ages 21 and up."
McGee added that while most people they've seen were survivors others lost loved ones.
"They're stressed on how they're going to survive," she said.
McGee added that they also give away survival packets that include hygiene supplies.
The group was to remain at the church until the Federal Emergency Management Agency arrived then they were to relocate to the FEMA center.
"We're trying to reestablish a sense of normalcy," Yates said, "but normalcy is easy to establish in some areas and hard in others."
The Louisville Coliseum on Ivy Street, across from the high school, is continuing to serve as a warehouse and distribution center for victims of the tornado.
There is a "high priority" need for Gatorade, dog food, alcohol and peroxide, bath towels and wash cloths and Germ-X hand sanitizer.
There is also a need for new packages of women's socks and underpants, junior girls' underpants and plus size ladies' capris.
Packages of men's socks and underwear are also needed along with longer style gym shorts in all sizes. Two-X and larger short sleeve men's shirts are also needed.
Other needs cited by the Winston County Relief Project are cleaning products such as Pine Sol, bleach, dishwashing liquid, Comet and laundry detergent.
Officials also cited a need for re-useable shopping bags.
A Winston County Relief Fund has been established for victims of the tornadoes. If you would like to give, a tax-exempt disaster relief fund has been set up. Checks can be sent to - Renasant Bank, 301 N. Church Ave., Louisville, MS 39339. Contributions to the Winston County Disaster Relief Fund will be tax deductible. For those wishing to donate in-kind, please contact Mayor Will Hill's office at (662) 773-9201.
Meanwhile, volunteers are still needed to help with the recovery efforts. They are asked to check in at the Louisville Coliseum between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Officials asked that volunteers not self deploy.
For more information contact numbers: 662-803-5295 or 662-803-5288. The number at the Louisville Coliseum is: (662) 773-7896.