Hundreds of volunteers helping Columbia residents after tornado - - Jackson, MS

Hundreds of volunteers helping Columbia residents after tornado

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
COLUMBIA, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Five people have now died from that EF3 tornado that struck the city of Columbia just days before Christmas.

At the same time, more than a thousand volunteers have already signed up to help with recovery, and many more are asking what they can do.

Cell phone video from resident Will Bozeman captured the destructive power inside that EF3 tornado, unimaginable to many.

Over the weekend, Mickey Hudson, CEO of Hudson's Salvage, died in an Alabama hospital from injuries he received. He was the fifth victim of the deadly twister.

As quickly as the storm tore through, so have relief efforts in the city of 6,600.

"We don't wait. We generally have volunteer groups that are, you know, already registered and waiting to get into an area," said David Mallery, executive director of Volunteer Mississippi. "As soon as we can get those recon assessments into our database, we'll start assigning work orders."

Mallery said that process has already started and they need more volunteers.

Signing up is highly recommended on the organization's website, which you can find here.

However, those who make the trek should keep certain things in mind.

"If you show up and you're gonna need gasoline, and you're gonna need food, and you're gonna need a place to sleep -- and those things are already in scarce supply within that community -- then you're probably not going to be very helpful," Mallery said.

Mallery added that they won't turn people away who show up unannounced to help, but those who join organizations and groups are easier to manage.

One piece of good news in all this, Mallery says: the way so many stepped up after the storm.

"After three or four days, because of the great support within the community itself, we were probably at the point where it normally takes up to three weeks to get as well-organized as the efforts are there," Mallery said.

The area hardest hit, the city of Columbia, has not received a federal disaster declaration yet.

Mallery said once they do, volunteer efforts will really pay off.

"The value of those volunteer hours and the value of any volunteer resources that you use -- heavy equipment and that sort of thing -- can be used for the local match to help that community access federal funds later on," Mallery said.

Depending on the amount of volunteer help, it can even mean that the city doesn't have to pay a single dime for federal funding, Mallery added.

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