By Tamica Smith-Jeuitt and Jasmine Haynes
Six Mississippi United Methodist structures suffer damage following the tornado that moved through Hattiesburg
|Tornado damage to the entrance
of the St. Paul UMC community
center in Hattiesburg.
"The good news is that nobody died," said Hicks, who has been communicating by text messaging with church leaders in locations he cannot access because of large amounts of debris and downed power lines. "We've been trying to keep in touch with people, checking to make sure pastors are okay, finding out what churches are doing, what needs are out there and trying to respond as I can," he added.
The Main Street United Methodist Church was fortunate to not take a hit but several of its members are tending to devastation to their personal possessions. Pastor Vicki Hughes reports that six families have experienced severe damage or total loss of their home. Like Hicks, she is also limited to traveling to certain areas where it is not safe.
"We hope to be able to broaden our support to people beyond the church families but our very first thing was to get on the phone and call shut-ins, we have covenant care ministry and we called to check on our older people and sort of account for everybody," said Hughes. In her case, technology was a saving grace as well. They church posted on facebook that one of their own needed assistance with clean up and the response was great, creating one of many bright spots in the midst of destruction.
"Everywhere you go people are spontaneously self-organizing to help clean up people's homes... we had about ten or 15 people in one house and none of those people knew our church members who were affected," said Hughes.
While the hearts and hands of Mississippi United Methodist are at work, The Mississippi United Methodist disaster response leaders remind everyone of its role in times of disaster, which is long term recovery. The best way to get involved now is to pray for the families affected by the storm, pray for the congregations that have been impacted and raise money for the recovery supplies that will be needed.
To make a financial gift towards the Mississippi Committee on Relief (MSCOR) send checks to the MS Annual Conference office, indicate Mississippi Disaster Relief in the memo line. The address is 320-A Briarwood Drive, Jackson, MS 39206.