EDITORIAL: Savage tornadoes

By NEMS Daily Journal

The still-unfolding magnitude of Wednesday’s killer tornadoes in Mississippi and other southern states has brought both offers of and requests for assistance from relief agencies and officials in affected areas like Monroe, Chickasaw and other counties.
Northeast Mississippians, whose generosity has repeatedly been demonstrated in times of distress, have several opportunities to aid recovery.
While Gov. Barbour has requested an “expedited major disaster declaration” for the April 15 storms, this week’s storms and the expected flooding of the Mississippi River, other forms of relief can be faster and more immediate.
The American Red Cross on Thursday issued an urgent call for volunteers to help in Northeast Mississippi. Potential volunteers for on-site work are asked contact the Red Cross Chapter (Columbus: 662-328-5710; Starkville: 662-323-4621; Tupelo: 662-842-6101). Training is available, and nurses and mental health professionals are needed. Other work would involve assessing damage, driving the mobile feeding trucks, facilitating client casework, answering phones and giving out information. Contact: Megan H. Burkes , Development & Communications Officer, mburkes@nemsredcross.org, 228-697-8767, or on twitter: @meganburkes.
• Tupelo City Hall is taking donations of bottled water and canned foods to aid in relief of surrounding communities. Drop off donations at the south entrance of City Hall. Call Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s office with questions: (662) 841-6513.
• Those who want to donate supplies can drop them off at the old National Guard Armory in Amory.
• The Salvation Army has requested donations of water which can be delivered to the Salvation Army at 527 Carnation St., Tupelo and to the Red Cross at 4127 Westside Dr., Tupelo. The Salvation Army also requests donations of Walmart gift cards to give victims, and powdered drink packets to flavor bottled water, and both organizations need cash donations.
Many Tupelo residents are acutely aware that an F5 tornado virtually destroyed Tupelo 75 years ago this month, leaving more than 230 people dead. The Smithville tornado has been initially classified as an F4 storm – winds in excess of 200 mph.
Wednesday’s storms across the South exceeded the Tupelo tornado death toll by Thursday afternoon, making it among the deadliest outbreaks in history.
Tornadoes like the ones Wednesday in the South have given the region its own weather label: “Dixie Alley,” matching the infamous “Tornado Alley” of the Mid-West.
The congressional delegation has either visited the damaged area or been in contact with relief leaders.
Remain aware of pressing human need in our region, and respond generously, as our region has been aided by others.