Petal: Rebuilding, debris removal, and more

Petal: Rebuilding, debris removal, and more
Photo credit: WDAM
Photo credit: WDAM
Photo credit: WDAM

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - Just a little over a week after the deadly EF-3 tornado ripped through the Pine Belt, families impacted in Petal are still digging through damage and clearing their properties.

Many of the homes will be removed to make way for a clean slate of building.

"If you go through the neighborhoods, most people have already made a huge amount of progress getting their debris piled by the roads," Petal Mayor Hal Marx said.  "People are already making plans for rebuilding. People are coming together to help neighbors. We've had help from outside volunteer groups, but we still have a long way to go."

Marx said city crews have already been out to start clearing debris.  He said Forrest County is lending crews for the effort, in addition to an outside contractor the city is hiring.

Marx is asking everyone still living in the neighborhoods or impacted by the tornado to be patient.  He said crews will be working 12-hour shifts, but the process is expected to last about three months.

"It's not something that's going to happen overnight, or the next week or two. We are making progress, we already have begun," Marx said.  "So just ask people to be patient and understand we are getting to it as quickly as we can."

Volunteers have been making their way to the Pine Belt to help with all types of recovery efforts. Dan Lundin drove his truck and trailer with a bulldozer from California. Lundin said it was a long 2,312 miles, but that it was worth it to come and help.

"This is what I do, I'm retired now. This is about the sixth time I've gone on a disaster, I've worked with various organizations," Lundin said.  "I have time and I like to do this."

The Churches of Christ Disaster Recovery Effort has also set up shop in Petal. Members will be out all week at Hinton Park serving breakfast and lunch, as well as giving out cleaning supplies, household items, water and other goods.

Pastor Robert Tripps said this is the time to help your neighbor.

"People come together and they help each other out," Tripps said. "The fact that we are commanded in the Bible to love one another, so that is what we are trying to do. Love each other and help each other out."

The Mississippi State Elks Association is also parked at Hinton Park. The members traveled from Pascagoula to help with tornado relief, serving hot meals to the community.

"That's what we do as Elks. We provide service to the community and provide service to our veterans," Mike Nobles said. "That's what we are dedicated to do. We're glad to be part of the effort."