The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has issued an urgent appeal for donations to provide food, water, clothing and housing for Mississippi Delta residents whose trailer homes were shredded Dec. 14 by tornadoes and storms that also ripped through parts of Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
“You’ve got five families in Anguilla, Miss., who have lost everything. It’s only five families, so it’s an opportunity to make a huge and immediate difference in their lives,” said Jason Coker, coordinator of CBF Mississippi, who toured the area and recorded video interviews of the residents and their debris-strewn community.
“These trailers were blown to pieces. One of them looks sheared in half. The couch is still in its original place even though the entire back wall was ripped off the house. It was crazy,” Coker said.
While the impact area is relatively small compared to other disaster sites, the magnitude and depth of personal loss in this instance motivated the collaborative response between the Fellowship and CBF Mississippi, said Daynette Snead Perez, CBF domestic disaster response manager.
“It looks like a bomb went off there. There is debris everywhere,” she said.
The storm system that generated the damage killed three people in Louisiana and left a wave of destruction across the Southeast, CNN reported. Tornadoes also left more than 9,000 Mississippians without power, including those whose residences were spared in Anguilla, just as temperatures were expected to plummet into the 30s.
Snead Perez said three people also were injured in the Mason Trailer Community in Anguilla, a small community located about 80 miles northwest of Jackson.
The Fellowship, field personnel and CBF Mississippi are working to provide immediate financial and material assistance to the families who have lost everything but their lives, she said. “We are reaching out to as many partner organizations as possible to generate as much aid and response as possible.”
The holiday season adds an additional layer of concern and urgency to the residents’ loss, especially for the dozen children who lived in the park, Snead Perez said. “Right before Christmas these families literally have nothing left, so we are conducting an immediate response. I hope others will give immediately so that these families can find some peace, joy and comfort here at the holidays.”
Together for Hope, the national rural poverty initiative that also serves the Delta region, will participate in caring for the residents, said Coker, president of the organization.
CBF Mississippi was able to provide $1,500 in gift cards the after storms and has an additional $3,500 in disaster funds to contribute to the displaced residents currently staying in motels, he said.
But his video demonstrates that much more will be needed. It opens with the brief interview of a woman named Victoria who is clearly stunned by the physical damage arrayed around her.
“We’re standing where your trailer was. This is the plumbing to your trailer (laying on the ground), and the tornado — it turned your trailer completely upside down. And you were in it,” Coker says. “Yes,” she replies.
A man named Leonard, whose nearby trailer home sustained relatively light damage, describes to Coker what it was like when the twisters roared through the community. “It is the scariest thing because it happened in a split second, and it sounded like a canon hit it. All I could do is duck and keep praying.”
Coker later notes that these families were struggling with poverty and hunger prior to losing their homes and possessions. “These guys were in bad way and in desperate need before the tornado.”
Housing will be the biggest need because none of the trailer homes were insured and, at about $50,000 apiece, likely will not be replaced, he said.