• Michelle Hartfield

Meals Served with a Side of Prayer - The Salvation Army Tornado Response in Mississippi

A series of tornadoes ripped through the state of Mississippi late Friday night, causing damage across a 200-mile path. Early Saturday morning, The Salvation Army mobilized teams to assess the damage and to begin distributing meals, snacks, and water to survivors and first responders. 

Units were stationed in Rolling Fork, Silver City, Winona, and Amory. In addition to meal service, The Salvation Army Emergency and Disaster Services contributed over 1400 shelf-stable meals and palettes of water to community distribution centers for residents to pick up as needed.

“The Salvation Army had boots on the ground serving meals in four different communities in less than 24 hours,” said William Trueblood, Divisional Director of Emergency Disaster Services. “We have 4 more units on standby for a continued response. We are working closely with our partners to ensure we do our part to restore sense and normalcy to the lives that have been turned upside down by these events.” 

In Rolling Fork, where a majority of the damage and deaths occurred, entire neighborhoods were leveled. Shell-shocked survivors sorted through rubble and cleared trees and debris from the roads. One survivor, Ms. Paulette, was overwhelmed, sitting on the porch in front of what used to be her home. “There is just nothing left,” she whispered with tears rolling down her face. “I have a 12-year-old daughter, and I don’t know where we will sleep tonight.”

Captain Heather Dolby spoke of her experience praying with an extended family of relatives who had all traveled in to assist their aunt. “In times of disaster, we often focus on the survivors, but we forget about the supporters who are there to help their family and friends who have lost everything. To be able to pray not just for survivors but for their supporters was an amazing gift, and I’m so thankful for it.”

Emotional and Spiritual Care is an important part of disaster response for The Salvation Army. Beyond the immediate visible effects, survivors can experience emotional stress and trauma. Whether through a shoulder for crying, an ear for listening, or just a moment of prayer, The Salvation Army is ready to help.