One organization has need for more tornado relief volunteers

The American Red Cross

AMORY, Miss. (WCBI) – When disaster strikes, there is a critical need for volunteers to help in the recovery.

And the American Red Cross is one organization that is always there to fill that need.

But the organization has a need of its own: more volunteers.

WCBI spoke with Red Cross Disaster Program Manager about the importance of volunteerism during a disaster.

With several tornadoes causing damage in the northern half of the state, volunteer agencies, like the Red Cross are doing what they do best: providing help.

But that agency is finding one of its most important resources, people, stretched thin. That’s why they’re putting out the call for more volunteers.

“All disasters start and end locally,” Gail Thompson said.

Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Gail Thompson said communities depend on the aid from volunteers to help during the aftermath of natural disasters.

“And in the case of these tornadoes, they occurred in the middle of the night; right after midnight, it is the people close to the disaster occurred are going to be able to get there quickest and have the most impact in the shortest amount of time,” Thompson said.

But here lies a problem; according to Thompson, some North Mississippi communities do not have local Red Cross representatives to lend that immediate support.

“We are making sure that they’ve got some comfort kits, some cots, and blankets, and then we are going to provide them with some food. We had only one red cross volunteer local to help right at that point and time, and quite a few local volunteers that were organized through the local United Way office out of Tupelo,” Thompson said.

And not only are volunteers needed, but more specifically, trained volunteers that can handle all situations.

“We spend a lot of time preparing all of our volunteers so that they provide high-quality mass-care services to those in need. So the mass care services that are being provided right here in Amory today is the same Mass care services we are providing in Rolling Fork,” Thompson said.

And Kim Rushing, Volunteer Director for United Way of North Mississippi, said don’t let worry about what you can or can’t do hold you back. They can match you with a group that can use your skills, as long as you’re willing to help.

“We have a good list of all the things, so if you just want to call us and ask what can I do and where am I needed. We can handle that too,” Rushing said.

If you want to know more information on how you can volunteer with the American Red Cross, contact Gail Thompson at or by calling (662)242-3399. To help with Amory Distribution Center, please call (662)231-395. If you have a need that a volunteer could fill at home or have volunteer questions, call (662)231-6224. To coordinate food vendors, call (662)432-1894. For Pontotoc area questions, call (662)489-3946.

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