‘Sweat Hours’ bring storm-stricken communities back from disaster

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) – Food is the language of the South and a tool for volunteers. Following extreme weather conditions in Clarkdale, the Salvation Army was there to serve 250 meals to anyone in need.

“After the storms and everything, people are coming together to help. I mean you can’t move the trees by yourself. so the community comes together and helps you do it,” said Salvation Army Captain Tamara Robb.

Just up the street at the New Hope Baptist Church, volunteers were preparing meals to deliver to people cleaning up the mess caused by the storm.

“Food is sometimes good for the soul,” said one of the people preparing the food, Sommer Webb. “So in any way we can show God’s love, especially this weekend with the Easter weekend. Just being able to go out into the community and love people, that we were offering them a burger or not, just showing them “hey, we’re here, we’re thinking of you, we appreciate your volunteering, and we just want to share the love with you.

And, in Causeyville, a local farm hit hard by the storms is pulling through with a little help from its friends.

“I didn’t call them, they just called me this morning to say they were coming to help, and I appreciate that.” Said Charles Downey, whose farm suffered significant damage. “It’s always good, whether it’s me and us being friends, to help anyone. If you’re going to help someone, you’ll feel better about yourself and someone in return will probably help you a day.

Mr Downey was joined by four other people who helped clear the damage caused by a ripped off barn roof and numerous fallen trees strewn across his land.

“I’ve been through Katrina and a lot of other disasters,” said Scott Gray, one of those who helped out on the Downey farm. “It takes time and effort and just a lot of sweaty hours. So when the community goes out and helps their neighbors, those hours of sweat are priceless and it’s just something that can’t be repaid. Due to the Easter weekend, we are ordered to go out and show our love.

Hours of sweat turn into acts of selflessness that show no disaster can drown a community with a volunteer heart.

“I’m 72, I didn’t want to have to fix this place again, it was fixed,” Downey said. “Now it’s a disaster and they’re here to try to help me. You feel much better when the sun comes up and your friends start showing up.

When the calm after the storms sets in, time and time again, the people of eastern Mississippi show that the only title you need to be a frontline responder is “Volunteer.”

“That’s what Mississippians do,” Gray said.

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