Hamilton community hosts “from victims to survivors” celebration day

HAMILTON, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s been almost a month since a devastating tornado ripped through the community of Hamilton.

Now the community has come together as they transition from victims to survivors.

“Can you imagine losing everything? Can you imagine a little boy saying he seen the roof come off, you know, with his mother holding him, ” said Abundant Life UPC First Lady Emily Kennedy.

On April 14, the community of Hamilton was devastated by an EF 2 tornado that left one dead, several injured, and many without a home or place to stay.

Community members have moved past the tragedy and looked forward to the future with Hamilton Strong Celebration Day.

“Today is that day that we’re just going to relax. We’re going to sit back. We’re going to enjoy some free food, some music, some entertainment,” said Kennedy.

You can’t just keep working without some rest, so we felt like putting this together and giving them a chance to come out and just relax, get their strength back, and go back at it,” said Abundant Life UPC pastor Joseph Kennedy.

Event organizers said their main focus is to help the children affected by the storm.

“We as adults, we are able to channel that and let go of that stress in different areas. Maybe even going back to work can kind of help us, but these kids… They’re still dealing with it… This provides them a way to forget about everything. Forget about it all. Maybe they’re staying with a relative, or they’re having to rent a very small place, or they may have boxes and have no idea where their favorite toy is in that box, or they may not even have a favorite toy anymore,” said Kennedy.

Jessica Gray is a Monroe County 911 dispatcher who was on duty the night of the tornado.

She said it’s a night she’ll never forget.

“I’m used to taking a lot of difficult phone calls. What I do get overwhelmed by is the amount of support and the amount of volunteers that step up immediately. It was less than ten minutes after the storm lifted off the ground that we had hundreds of volunteers filing into Monroe County from all over the state,” said Gray.

The celebration is just one example of how residents of Hamilton have slowly rebuilt and recuperated.

“We are still here. We are still fighting. We love you. We are going to rejoice because we are still here,” said Gray.

“We’re not only Hamilton strong, but we’re Hamilton stronger,” said Kennedy.

Members of Abundant Life UPC said they are still taking donations, and there are still many families in the Hamilton area that are in need.

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