“I can 100% tell you that I’m traumatized by this, and it may last forever,” Carlee told The Salvation Army disaster team, “I may never get over this.”
As The Salvation Army Disaster Relief Units roved through destroyed neighborhoods distributing essential items and assessing needs, the team discovered a deep need for survivors to process the devastation, extreme loss, and feelings of hopelessness. The Salvation Army has a long history in disaster response and recognizes the often hidden but traumatic feelings following a disaster. Trained emotional and spiritual care personnel serve to offer support and prayer.
“You never expect it will happen to you. It’s a devasting experience and leaves a scarring feeling,” said Carlee. Carlee had just given birth to the family’s first son only four days before the night the tornado ripped through their home.
Carlee said she knew something was wrong when a family friend called late Friday night. He just yelled, ‘I don’t have time to explain. Get in your hallway; you are about to get hit!’” James, Carlee’s fiancé, ran to look outside the back door and then sprinted through the kitchen yelling, “Get down, get down!”
They had only seconds to get to the hallway. As Carlee lay covering her newborn and 7-year-old stepdaughter on the hallway floor, her fiancé threw himself on top of them as ‘the sound of the loudest train you could ever imagine’ ever roared through their home, sucking all of the air out of the room. “For 30 seconds, you couldn’t breathe.”
Carlee said she felt the tornado pick up the roof and shift it. Shortly after, they fled to the bedroom to escape the soaking rain. “Our home is totaled,” she said, shaken.
“I haven't even had time to heal physically,” whispered Carlee, as she watched her family wade through the ruins of the home passed down for generations, searching for salvageable family treasures.
Volunteers prayed over Carlee Jo and her fiancé James Berry and asked what else was needed. “I don't need anything for me; I just want my babies taken care of.”
“I don't like handouts. We work hard for all we have,” said Carlee. “But we really appreciate everyone that has come together to help us.”
The Salvation Army continues to deploy disaster relief units throughout Rolling Fork, Silver City, Winona, and Amory to assess immediate and longer-term needs and distribute hot and shelf-stable food, water, and emotional and spiritual care to survivors.
You can support The Salvation Army's ongoing efforts by visiting helpsalvationarmy.org or texting MSTornadoes to 51555.