Frontline Responders: “Sweat Hours” bring storm stricken communities back from disaster

Selfless individuals came out to help their community after tornadoes hit.
Published: Apr. 17, 2022 at 8:28 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Food is the language of the South and a tool for volunteers. Following severe weather in Clarkdale, the Salvation Army was there serving 250 meals to anyone who needed them.

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

Just up the street at New Hope Baptist Church volunteers were preparing meals for delivery to folks cleaning up storm damage.

“Food is sometimes good for the soul,” One of the people preparing food, Sommer Webb, said. “So just any way we can show God’s love, especially this weekend with it being Easter Weekend. Just being able to get out into the community and love on people, whether we’re giving them a hamburger or not, just showing ‘hey we’re here, we’re thinking about you, we appreciate how you’re volunteering, and we just want to share love with you.”

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

“I didn’t call them, they just called me this morning to tell me they’re coming to help, and I appreciate it.,” Charles Downey, whose farm sustained major damage, said. “It’s always good, whether it’s me and we’re friends, just to help anyone. If you go help somebody, you’ll feel better about yourself and somebody in return will probably help you out someday.”

Mr. Downey was joined by four others who helped him clear damage from the roof of a barn being torn off and many fallen trees littered across his land.

“I’ve lived through Katrina and a lot of other disasters,” Scott Gray, one of those helping on the Downey Farm, said. “It takes time and effort and just a lot of sweat hours. So, when the community goes out and helps its’ neighbors, those sweat hours are invaluable and it’s just something that can’t be reimbursed. Due to the Easter Weekend, we’re commanded to go out and show our love.”

Sweat hours convert to acts of selflessness that show that no disaster can drown out a community with a volunteer’s heart.

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

When the calm after the storms settles, time and time again, the people of East 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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