HATTIESBURG, Miss. - When an EF-3 tornado ripped through Hattiesburg in 2017, a group of volunteers traveled from Pennsylvania to piece homes back together.
“They have or will complete 19 new constructions by the time they leave here next month. Numerous repair jobs that they have taken on for us and honestly they are a gift,” said Chris Adams, R3SM Coordinator.
The group refer to themselves as MDS short for Mennonite Disaster Service.
“They arrived in October – and they will be here until mid-May. In that time, they would have rebuilt from the ground up 10 new homes, and done numerous major repair jobs as well,” she said.
However, to rebuild and repair those homes, the Mennonites needed tools. Instead of making expensive purchases elsewhere a local hardware supplier partnered with them.
“They have bought the majority of their materials through Economy Supply and we have just been so fortunate, they are so easy to deal with, they are wonderful people," said Talmadge Anderson of Economy Supply.
Anderson said MDS hardware and tool purchases kept the money local and to say thank you – he and his team bought MDS lunch.
“Different volunteers, with people pitching in, it’s just tear jerking. We had one of the Mennonites that was leaving and he had been here through almost the whole project and I couldn’t even look at him in the face because he was tearing up and I was about to tear up. It's such a blessing my heart is just overfilled,” he explained.
R3SM officials said once Mennonite Disaster Device returns to Pennsylvania next month, they will still recruit volunteers to help restore Hattiesburg.