Speaker: Rev. Vickie White
What is the current situation in Mississippi following the tornadoes? Can you describe the damage you're seeing?
Rev. Vickie White: I'm Reverend Vickie White. I am the Director of Connectional Ministries and Communications for the Mississippi Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. And I come to you today to share with you a little bit of where we are less than a week out from the tornadoes that ravaged the state of Mississippi. The damage is extensive in many communities. There are homes that are completely destroyed and will have to be completely rebuilt. There are homes that are damaged. The cleanup is still ongoing. We don't yet know the extent completely of all the damage and what will be required. But what we do know is this: that through the connection of The United Methodist Church and with UMCOR's assistance, we will be here for the long term, for the months and years that it will take to restore people's lives back to some semblance of what they had before. It will never be the same, but we will be here to walk alongside them and assist them in every way possible. The damage is heartbreaking. People's lives have been forever changed. Communities have been forever changed. The stories of people who survived because they gathered in a closet and that's the only thing remaining. For the people who ran into a freezer in a restaurant and survived when all around them was destroyed. For the folks who rescued people out of damaged homes and took them to live with them. That's kind of where we are right now. We'll know more later.
Describe the initial response. What is happening, and who is doing what?
Rev. Vickie White: As is the case with any disaster of this magnitude, the initial response was by first responders. They had to go in, rescue those who were injured, take care of utilities, cut off electricity and gas mains, clear roads, take care of those safety things that have to be done in order for those who are looking through what's remaining of their homes, as well as those who seek to come and walk alongside them. It is just today on Wednesday, about five days after, that our first ERT team is going into Rolling Fork, Mississippi. We'll know more after they get there, um, exactly what else we're gonna need, but we anticipate going into all the communities at some point, um, and we'll be here for the long haul. We'll be here for the months and years to come.
How can people help?
Rev. Vickie White: As a cradle Methodist, I'm never more proud of being a United Methodist, than when disaster strikes and people throughout the connection, reach out to those who are hurting and we've experienced that in just these few days here in Mississippi. What we need most right now, and this is what we're sharing with our people, # 1 is prayer. Prayer undergirds everything that we do and seek to do. We also are going to need lots of money because it's going to take funds to restore people's lives back together. Right now, as I've said earlier, there's nothing else as far as supplies that we really need. There will be a time in which we will. But for today, what we really need are your prayers and your funds.
Rev. Vickie White: Um, again, I'm grateful for the connection, because we've heard from people throughout our connection and it helps a lot. Thank you so much.