Volunteers continue relief efforts for homeowners affected by tornado

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A volunteer group from Florida is in the Pine Belt this week helping victims of the January tornado.

The group, which consists of adult site leaders and high school students, is at three different sites in Hattiesburg and Petal this week.

"We're here to help. We're teaching the kids that we're the body of Christ and that they're here to help people. It's not about the job itself, it's not about the construction or the painting. It's about helping that person rebuild their life," said site leader Dennis McCabe.

Dorothy Smith's home was severely damaged in the tornado. On Monday, she was able to smile as volunteers worked to repair it.

"I didn't know what was going to happen to me or my family. Now I just feel blessed, wonderfully blessed," said Smith.

Petal Homeowner Alfred Brown was watching as volunteers tore down his destroyed roof. He's excited to eventually rebuild his home.

"We really didn't have a chance to be scared during the storm because it happened so fast," said Brown. "I thank God that we're getting some help. I really appreciate everyone."

Site leader Jeff Cage is currently on his third mission trip to Hattiesburg. He's thankful for the efforts of the youth volunteers.

"We have an amazing youth from our church," said Cage.They're willing to work and willing to learn."

The volunteers are using this experience to help out those in need, but they're also using it to grow as people.

"Being a part of this church family has really changed me as a person. I really feel like I'm serving God in a great way," said Delaney McCabe.

The group will be here until the end of the week. Another volunteer group from California will be flying in next week. The need for local volunteers is growing. Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to call R3SM at 601-544-5115.