Severe storms ripped through the state early Monday morning, spawning tornadoes that destroyed homes in Covington County. Local responders acted quickly to mobilize and offer support. A powerful line of storms leveled buildings and left several people injured in Covington County. This massive destruction caused a call for aid, and that call did not go unanswered. Jay Huffstatler, the Chapter Executive of the American Red Cross, says, "We're able to pick up the phone. I got a call at 4 a.m. about the damage requesting our services, so we just made the call to our volunteers. They want to come out and help." Volunteers from across the Coast, like Gary Balch, have stepped up to assist those in need after taking a hard hit from the storm.
Balch says, "Well, they need some help up there and they need people to get up there and do the job and when you get a shortage, they start calling everybody else and we ended up going and my wife is going with me." Balch says he knows what to expect from storms like this. He was on the front lines in nearby Hattiesburg last year after a tornado ripped through the area, injuring 80 people. Balch also says, "We're just going to take a truck up and we're going to be doing D.A., which is disaster assessment, so we will go up and look at houses and things like that and then what we do is those numbers go back into F.E.M.A. and things like that."
Many of the Red Cross volunteers are from the Coast. Huffstatler also says, "Most of them have been through a hurricane or something like that in south Mississippi, so they know what their fellow neighbors and family members and things like that are going through. So they want to be able to jump up and help in a moment’s notice and give back to the community." The community has shown strong resilience in trying times like these. A missing nine year old girl in Yazoo City is believed to have been swept away by flash flood waters last night. She is believed to have been caught up in flood waters outside the back door of her parents' house.