By STEVEN NALLEY
Starkville businesses, charities and churches are working together to help those hit hardest by April’s tornado outbreak.
Two trailers delivering supplies to tornado victims were set up in Starkville last week. Southwire’s Project GIFT worked together with The Salvation Army at a trailer located in the Walmart parking lot, and Cadence Bank also had a trailer located in front of their building on Main Street, working together with the United Way.
Southwire and the Salvation Army gathered paper goods, cleaning supplies, food, blankets, beverages, ice chests and coolers in several southern cities, including Starkville, Heflin, Ala., Florence, Ala. and Carrollton, Ga. They also distributed goods to those in need not only in Mississippi, but also Alabama.
Donna Rupp, assistant vice president at Cadence, said the United Way collected more than $4,000 in monetary donations at the trailer, provided by Bell and Sons Trucking, Inc. to bring supplies to victims in Webster County.
“We collected approximately 1,500 items including bottled water, cleaning supplies, blankets, canned food items and more,” Gavin said. “We also collected school supplies for East Webster High School that was destroyed by the tornado. Teachers needed new supplies for classrooms as they were relocated to the old Wood Junior College campus.”
Lynn Burch, head secretary with First United Methodist Church, said FUMC is preparing to distribute $10,373 in monetary donations to Mississippi emergency management agencies. Jeff Artigues, pastoral minister at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, said the church had gathered approximately $1,500 in donations and had also worked with other local churches to bring warm meals to victims in Cumberland.
“We had a bunch of people prepare meals, and also, we had probably a total of 12-15 people who drove out to Cumberland Tuesday and Thursday and served lunch and dinner both days,” Artigues said. The Starkville Police Department is also helping with storm recovery, with eight Starkville police officers providing security for the tornado ravaged town of Smithville.
The police department is able to contract out several of their officers through Homeland Security to provide law enforcement aide during emergencies.
“We are asked on occasion to send people to areas in emergencies were we can provide assistance,” Chief David Lindley said. “They’re there to perform law enforcement duties, primarily the securing of the damaged residences that are not occupied.”
Law enforcement services are vital during times of crisis. Local law enforcement can be stretched to their limits. It is not usual to see an increase in crime during these events, though Lindley said his officers had a relatively quiet experience thus far.
“Providing police services can be challenging in this type of environment,” Lindley said. “Even directing traffic can become much more challenging.”
The officers have been in Smithville since Friday night, and are likely to remain at least through today. Homeland Security will reimburse the department for their services.
Colleen McCarthy contributed to this story.