“Everyone has forgotten about us,” said Lashonda, “We need help.”
The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Roving team deploys to the harder-to-reach areas impacted by disaster to offer assistance and share hope. During one of these roving missions, The Salvation Army team found a family devastated by the loss of life and homes but whose family bond is strong and their faith stronger.
Lashonda is an Army Veteran who did three tours in Iraq before retiring to spend more time raising her two teenage daughters.
Her immediate and extended have lived on family land for over 60 years. It's the kind of family land shared among relatives and where homes are passed from generation to generation. In fact, her cousin, Malinda, raised her family in the same home in which she was raised and then remained to care for her mom, who passed away two years ago on April 1. The anniversary of her death is particularly hard this year.
They are a close family where sisters, brothers, and cousins share their lives and finish each other's sentences. So, when the storm passed, family members immediately began ‘checking in’ on the family’s group text. “Three people didn’t respond,” Lashonda said. The missing texts were from Lashonda's cousin, her cousin’s husband, and their son.
Malinda lives across the street from her cousin, and her son was able to find his way amongst the downed trees and power lines across the street to check on his family. What he encountered was complete destruction.
Their home had been picked up and thrown in pieces against the trees behind the house, completely unrecognizable as a home. In fact, only the cinderblocks where the trailer once rested remain.
Malinda’s son found only his cousin’s body. The family and medics later came and recovered his parent’s bodies.
Malinda’s home is uninhabitable, broken apart, and the interior has begun to mold from the water damage and humidity. The family has set up make-shift tents as protection from the sun and to ‘store’ donated water and food items.
Even as the loss of family weighs heavy, Malinda still claims the goodness of God and is grateful for her family members who survived. “We could have lost everyone. It was because of the Hand of God, that we were protected and survived,” said Malinda.
Emotional and spiritual specialist and certified grief coach Lt. Roy Fisher of Meridian said, “The recurring theme with this family is that it was God’s Hand of protection that surrounded them and that if it weren't for God’s protection, they would not be here to continue to praise Him for His love."
The Salvation Army offered food and water provisions, provided Malinda's family with an emergency kit, and is assisting with extended relief services.
The Salvation Army has provided emotional and spiritual support to almost 600 survivors while also serving over 24,000 meals and snacks and more than 30,000 hydration beverages.