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Tornado hit communities, rebuilding lives

PETAL, Miss. - The aftermath of the deadly E-F3 tornado that killed 4 people early Saturday morning is simply devastating.

The deadly twister traveled a 15 mile path badly hitting Forrest, Lamar, and Perry counties. People in the community immediately covered their roofs with tarps, removed trees out of the streets, and grabbed their personal tools to repair the damage.

Sean Kittrell owns Kittrell Construction, the moment the tornado came through Petal he made a decision to start rebuilding South Main street.

"For anybody that needed help the first thing I did, was volunteer me and my guys" said Kittrell. He added, "It is not a time to make money, it is a time to tarp roofs and stuff like that.”

Colby Mitchell, 15, said he got up at the break of dawn to help his neighbors.

“I came out here because I knew the disaster was bad, I knew people was out here working hard, so I didn’t want to be at the house all day" said Mitchell.

He continued, "I will clean up a little bit, until the community gets what they need.” The tornado wiped through W.L Smith Elementary, parts of its roof destroyed.

Superintendent Matt Dillon said more than 600 students are temporarily displaced and will attend classes at Petal Harvey Baptist church.

“Again just churches pitching in, it is something we call the Petal way here, and everyone is just doing their part to provide some type of normalcy" said Dillon.

On Evelyn Gandy Highway, Mount Vernon Baptist Church suffered a second tornado hit within the last 3 years. Surrounding churches helped to rebuild and salvage what is left.

A church member, Rico Woods said he appreciates the community's help.

“Church is a really good thing, and for them to come out and help us, is a really good thing.”

Beyond the flipped cars, flattened homes, and broken power lines, a group of kids from Asbury United Methodist church walked through the badly damaged Petal neighborhoods to offer water and food.

Destiny Rogers said, "I came out here the first day it happened, and immediately I woke up that morning wanting to help people.”

As the Hattiesburg and Petal community slowly rebuilds, the people will continue to rely on one another.



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