Oklahomans Continue To Pour Into Alabama, Mississippi To Help Storm Victims

Monday, May 2nd 2011, 8:21 pm
By: News 9

Rusty Surette, Red Cross and News9.com Special Contributor

OXFORD, Mississippi -- It's my fourth day in Mississippi and I continue to see more Oklahomans arriving here to help out.

Sunday evening I was walking into the Red Cross office here in Oxford and I spotted two familiar faces. It was Pam and Bruce Travis from Tecumseh, Oklahoma. They had just arrived and today they're in Tate County, Mississippi doing damage assessment on homes that have been impacted by flooding.

That continues to be the biggest concern here. The damage is done from the tornadoes, but now it's the fear of the unknown from the rising Mississippi and Cold Water Rivers. The bad news is more rain is expected tonight and tomorrow. Some could be severe. Last night I was watching the news from Memphis, Tennessee (about 80 miles north of here) where a tornado warning was issued.

I spent most of my day Sunday talking with storm victims and getting a good idea of what they need.

I spoke with a very sweet lady named Thelma Thweatt in the community of Pine Flat. She was telling me about the terrifying evening the tornado tore through her neighborhood last week.

"I ran inside and ran to my bathroom. I didn't even have time to get into the tub," said Thweatt. "I saw one look at the tornado and I didn't think I had a chance to live. I didn't even ask the Lord to save me. I just called out his name."

Next door to Thweatt was a family living in a trailer that is now destroyed. Thweatt said the father told her the trailer was picked up off the ground while the family was still inside.

In the neighboring community of Yocona, I spoke with Debbie Bowie who continued to hug and kiss her grandson, Jesse, as she explained why she was worried sick after the tornado passed over her son's home.

"They were home when it hit and I was in Batesville," said Bowie. "I don't know what they are going to do. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to tell people anymore."

Fortunately, this is why the Red Cross is on the ground. We have volunteers and staff from Oklahoma and all across the country helping these families pick up the pieces. In fact, one of our team leaders from the American Red Cross chapter in Oklahoma City, James Tittle, is now in Alabama and serving as second-in-charge for our mission there.

Many more of our volunteers from Oklahoma have been put on standby. With more rain on the way I fear the worst is far from over.